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Red Eared Slider

Red eared slider, Trachemys scriptaalbus
Red eared slider, Trachemys scriptaalbus

How many times do I get reminded that every year is different from the year before? This year is proving to be a strange one, leap year and politics aside. Momentous times are heralded as we enter the Year of the Water Dragon.

Here we are in rainfall recovery, finally catching up on years of below average rainfall. But now we gripe because so much fell all at once that our streams and rivers overflow their banks.

The botanical world forges ahead serenely, the buds swelling and bursting. The spring beauty (Cardamine nuttallii) traditionally has its first bloom on Feb. 16, Lincoln Constance’s birthday. Growing up in Eugene, he and his family would go out searching to see if they could find one of these little pink flowers blooming on his day. He went on to become one of the most prominent botanists of the 20th century at UC-Berkeley. I always do a Lincoln Constance Memorial Flower Hunt on his birthday. If not the spring beauty, our other harbinger, the osoberry, is usually out.

The animals are doing strange things, too. Last month I mentioned that few members of our fauna hibernate. Seeing a red eared slider out sunning himself on the third of January taught me a new word: brumation. These reptiles do not hibernate, they brumate: coming out when there is a sudden warm spell but burrowing back into the mud when it gets cold again. Makes me think, I should brumate the rest of this winter.