Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter woods and a January Fakeout

It's tempting, it really is, to break ground on my garden to set out lettuce and kale seeds during these warm days in January. We have yet to see the brunt of winter, but we're experiencing what is, in some states with highly regular patterns like this one, called a January Fakeout. Winter has only just begun, but this week is proving to be ideal for hauling all of my tropical houseplants to the porch for a good, thorough soaking. And the short spate of warmer temperatures and sunshine has made for ideal hiking weather.

Winter hiking in the Ozarks tends to allow for the viewing of all of the incredible geologic formations: Gasconade dolomite boulders perched on a ledge, limestone cliffs covered in ice forming veritable swords, sandstone benches that wrap around a contour line, invisible during leaf on.

Winter botany is also fun, seeing all the desiccated flower heads and the Echinaceas with all the seeds picked clean by goldfinches throughout the season. We may have come across a wood rat midden that day, seeds and twigs and debris all packed under a dolomite shelf on the glade. There are plenty of seeds in fire-mediated landscapes, a forb-dominant world with suites of flowering plants for pollinators and birds alike. The cedar waxwings and Eastern bluebirds were thick that day, mobbing the stray cedars and picking them clean of bright blue berries. But it was the red-headed woodpecker population-- every sunny slope, every post oak and white oak and black oak filled with the chattering calls of this charismatic woodpecker. Hooray for acorns on the landscape, and for the brilliant sunshine that makes the male bluebird feathers look almost neon.


Higgs Boson said...

The second picture really drives home how much softer dolomite is than limestone. How long has it been perched there like that? A thousand years? Ten thousand years?

Not nearly as long as the boulders at Elephant Rocks, I bet.

Allison Vaughn said...

No, surely not as long as the igneous boulders, but no clue how long that dolomite rock has been perched rather precariously on top of this very rocky island in a spring. From what I understand, this island-spring-cave complex is all in Gasconade dolomite. I hope Missouri doesn't have visitors like the ones who knocked over the hoodoos out in the red rocks country a couple of years ago!