Saturday, December 7, 2019

From Brown to White

The landscape becomes so brown in late November. Although it's a mostly quiet and dormant time of the year, there are still plenty of interesting things to see. On November 25, I wandered in our meadow, admiring the wide variety of textures and shades-of-brown on the plentiful dried plant stems remaining after this year's growth. These arching goldenrod seedheads were especially fluffy and pretty:

And I love the mix of puffball seedheads and curly dried leaves on this aster:

Wider views of the undisturbed part of the meadow (the part that wasn't excavated and reseeded afterward) showed interesting patchworks of dried plants:

Red pedicels on Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) shrubs at the edge of the meadow added some color among all the brown:

A few familiar winter-season birds were out and about as well. This Black-capped Chickadee was busy processing a sunflower seed and didn't seem to mind me standing nearby:

And a fluffy White-breasted Nuthatch worked its way along a tree trunk:

Hey, do you have a seed, too?

November 25th and 26th were relatively warm days, and I was surprised to see several moths -- which turned out to be Fall Cankerworm Moths (Alsophila pometaria) -- both during the day and at night under our porch light:

Here's another one of these moths that ended up in our house for a bit:

And after I saw my first wingless female moth earlier in the year, wouldn't you know it, female Fall Cankerworm Moths are wingless as well. (The moths in the above pictures are males.) Since that was the only species of moth I saw on those warm-weather days, I have to assume that this wingless moth on our porch on November 26 is a female of that species. Nature is so interesting and weird!

And speaking of insects, on November 25 I moved a log against our house's foundation and uncovered a pile of hibernating ladybugs; that's a lot of bugs, but given how many ladybugs we find in and around our house on warm days, I'm not particularly surprised to find this big of a group here:

On December 2, we got our first big snowstorm of the season. And it was a big storm, bringing a layer of ice followed by about a foot of thick, clinging snow overnight, and then more snow throughout the day. Most places around here closed that day -- including my work -- so I had some extra time in which to enjoy this transformation of the landscape into a world of white. The hillside across the valley from our house grew massive white structures (with pine trees somewhere underneath):

Here's a view along one edge of our property, with the old and nearly-collapsing shed surrounded by heavy snow:

The snow was so sticky -- and there was so little wind -- that it gained quite a bit of height even on narrow spots, and formed some interesting shapes. I especially like these fancy hats that developed on the Purple Coneflower seedheads:

Several birds were active throughout the snowy day, including this Northern Cardinal who was munching on Pokeweed berries:

Now that we're in December, I expect to see a lot of white landscapes for the next few months. It's definitely winter now!


  1. Wonderful pictures of the November meadow turning white. Reminds me of our last place.

  2. Love seeing your fields of snow. I miss it.