Japan House Pond | 02.13.11

Blue skies accented with wispy white clouds and temperatures in the mid-40s welcomed me to the Japan House Pond this afternoon, a marked change from the wintry weather two weeks ago. After three days of warming, just a few inches of snow remain from the blizzard and subsequent storms that blanketed the area the first week in February. Ice still supports the snow on the pond surface which is now covered with animal, human and even cross-country ski tracks. Our warming trend is forecast throughout the week, so I would predict we’ll see open water soon.

The sun brought out the green and russet in the landscaping near Japan House. After such a grey winter, the plants and sky look oversaturated to the eye.

The branching structure and twisted trunks of of Crataegus mollis (Downy Hawthorn) lend great character to the grove on the north side of the pond. Their habit is at once visually chaotic and beautifully architectural.

One of the hawthorns artistically frames the pondside park bench, upon which I’ve had many a poignant and thoughtful moment. Each of the hawthorns is unique in its branching and trunk; there doesn’t seem to be any genetic rhyme or reason to its habit.

The trees and shrubs around the pond still held their buds tightly as they wait for warmer weather. The true life of the grove today scampered and fluttered through their branches. Camouflaged in the thicket of hawthorn was this mourning dove who hopped from branch to branch with his mate, all the while keeping a safe distance from me. A band of blue jays cautiously watched me walk through the grove as well.

Several grey squirrels who call the hawthorn home scurried from branch to branch, occasionally holding still long enough for a decent portrait. A large hawk hovered overhead, so perhaps they kept on the move to avoid more than me and my camera.

The grove at the Japan House Pond was truly alive. In past weeks, you felt only winter’s pall and heard only the creaking of branches. Today, the warm weather, sunny skies, and abundant animal activity filled the grove with the energy of the coming spring.