Witch hazel

Don’t be fooled into thinking the frazzle-headed yellow flowers blooming in Keene’s Ashuelot River Park these days are early signs of spring: quite the contrary. These blossoms are late bloomers, witch hazel typically flowering in fall and winter. The last time, in fact, I posted a picture of witch hazel, it was blooming in New York’s Central Park in February: not exactly a spring thing.

Still, these days we’ll allow ourselves to be fooled by anything that could be interpreted as a sign of spring. The snow is gone, mostly…but March or April snowfalls aren’t unheard of here in southern New Hampshire, so we’re not out of the wintry woods until the blackflies hatch in May. Local gardens are pushing up crocuses and snowdrops…but cultivated plants, like hothouse flowers, aren’t necessarily indicative of nature’s true seasons.

The robins are back…of course, some of them never left, and some northern robins came here to wile the winter. But still, this morning when I awoke to the sound of robins singing, I knew we’d turned a seasonal corner with the bleak and silent winter months having suddenly blossomed into a morning chorus of chuckling nuthatches, whistling chickadees, and drumming woodpeckers.

Don’t be fooled by the fool’s gold of late-flowering witch hazel. Spring isn’t here yet, but it’s coming, coming.