The Wilderness Awakes & Surprises

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

The wilderness has finally awakened from its winter’s nap. That which was darkened sticks reaching skyward just a month ago have now taken on a light green hue as leaf buds begin unfurling.

I thought the woods was sleeping in like I do sometimes, but then realized it is just mid-April and nature is on its own time.

Just like in town the crocus and daffodil have already bloomed and are spent leaving tall tufts of deep green. But the pink spring beauties, deep maroon trillium, and delicate white dutchman’s britches of the woodland have taken over for the man planted flowers.

The under story serviceberry trees are the first to bloom in the woods and their small star like white flower offer a nature’s palate contrast to the brown leaf forest floor. Redbuds are beginning to prove their name and dogwoods, whose flower blooms were set last fall and made it through the winter cold and snow, are beginning to unfurl their cross like blooms.

And with the spring greening, I discover some trees that remain lifeless. Some due to drought a couple of years back, some due to insects, some for nature’s reasons. Those will get used in my fireplace for winter warmth.

But for now, the warm weather has awakened the insect eggs and the wood eating grubs are hunted by a variety of percussionists. There is the tick-tick-tick of the small downy woodpecker, the staccato rat-a-tat-tat of the robin size hairy woodpecker and the boisterous jackhammer of the crow sized pileated woodpecker as they drill and hammer the dead forest trees for an insect meal.

Of course the squirrel, chipmunk and variety of mice have made it through the winter and are now searching for food. My bird feeders sometimes get taken over by the four-leggeds but a rap on my window sends them scurrying and re-opening the restaurant to the intended feathered friends.

Friday night (as I was dozing on the couch) I was awakened by a scuffle on the front porch. I was aware that the low voltage lights attract insects but wasn’t prepared for the surprise in store.

A moth was distracted from the outdoor lights to my reading light by the couch. And almost immediately as it flew into the window, a head with a black bandit mask popped up and grabbed the moth. The raccoon paused there ever so briefly with the moth in its mouth obviously just as startled at seeing me and I was at the entire drama that just took place.

Nature always offers a surprise in the wilderness.