Here in Ohio, snow has cloaked the landscape in a dense layer of fluff nearly all winter. Temperatures have been decidedly frosty as well, making one really yearn for something green. So, last Sunday, some of us headed afield in Adams County to see if any early flora could be found. Down there, hard on the banks of the mighty Ohio River, the broad valley of this 120,000 year old stream has its own microclimate. Winter's temperatures are moderated, and things heat up much earlier in spring. Get around some of the rock outcrops, and one should find a number of early-blooming wildflowers by now.
But it was not to be. This winter has been tough enough to turn Al Gore pink-faced with chagrin, and the plants just haven't popped. I bet by now, just days after the foray reported upon herein, many wildflowers are out, so quick are they to burst furth given a bit of warm weather and liberation from the snow coat.
We did find lots of interesting things - that's ALWAYS the case on one of our forays - and a few are pictured below.
A must-stop was Sandy Springs Cemetery, an old cacti-choked graveyard on one of the best remaining riverine sand terraces along the Ohio River. Our attention was quickly drawn to these tiny hirsute bees (we think they are bees), which were perhaps one-quarter inch long, many of which were patrolling low over the sands.
It didn't take long to realize that the little bees were seeking suitable digging grounds. In the above photo, one has tunneled into the loose sand until only its tail end protrudes. In short order, it was completely buried and the sands had completely hidden it. A nest, possibly to become the crypt of some hapless paralyzed bug that will be Jr. Bee's first meal?
We did see a few other weedy little species, such as Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, and Smooth Speedwell, Veronica polita, but even these earliest of bloomers were far behind their normal schedule. But make no mistake - the floodgates of spring have cracked open, and it'll be a cascade of plants tumbling forth from here on out.