It’s About Time – February 2015

Looking up at a rare starry sky in January, even rarer because of a warm night, I was drawn to do a little star gazing. Orion is heading out west long before midnight. I’m going to miss him because there is no summer character in the sky that I know well enough to track the spring-summer-fall passage. Maybe a little gazing this July will find the constellation that attracts my focus.

Flower watchers are witnessing an odd year. Unexpected sightings of truly precocious early blooms seem to indicate an early spring. But spring is far off; winter is far from over. Last year February brought a late snowfall in the valley followed immediately by a spectacular ice rain. We suffered long dry spells several times. Global warming means climate change which produces erratic weather fluctuations, which messes with the internal clocks of plants.

As the river returns to normal winter levels, the flow through Delta Ponds settles down a bit. A flock of lesser scaup keeps watch just below the Greenway Bridge. Early in the morning a cormorant and a heron share the same log, head under a wing. It was cold and foggy; they were waiting for the sun to come out.

Buds on the big riverbank trees are swelling fast enough to be noticed by casual observers. The cottonwoods are notable for their long season of coming out. Individual trees may bloom as much as six weeks apart. Only the first bloomers have fat buds in February.