Posted by: atowhee | December 22, 2019


Nora and I walked around the Joe Dancer Wetlands yesterday.  I had on my calf high wellies.  She was exercising her Labrador genes and loving her wet paws.  You could not go through the marsh without boots.  Much of it had two inches or more of water.  There is no obvious drainage for incoming water and the small seasonal stream entering the southwest corner of the wetlands is only two feet wide but it is running several inches deep.  Most of the birds we saw were in the wetlands: juncos, Song Sparrows.  Best, we flushed one Wilson’s Snipe who simply lifted off and flew to the other side of the marsh.

I am noticing that trees have an altogether non-mammalian approach to time.  Both hazelnuts and alders now have their tassels drooping from twigs.  Buds have formed on magnolia, oak, cherry and willow.  Cottonwood now have buds at the tip of each twig.  The red-osier dogwoods have tiny, black talon-shaped buds at the tip of each twig.  Regular flowering dogwoods have buds like tiny onion bulbs sticking up from branches. I realize how wrong I was all those years to imagine trees as dormant during cold winters.  And, unseen, the roots, the real “heart” of the tree are very busy beneath the surface.

At Joe Dancer the South Yamhill River is now high and muddy.  It is running half-way  up the riverbank, several feet deep.  It carries logs and limbs, soil from the Yamhill Valley, unseen chemicals.  Those chemicals will include oil I’ve seen running off our driveways and down street gutters, agri-toxins (better known as “aggro-toxins”), fertilizers, animal manure and biodegradable bits of leaf.  All this is headed downstream, eventual destination: Pacific Ocean.


  1. Reblogged this on Wolf's Birding and Bonsai Blog.

  2. I recently thought I saw buds, but said no, I must be seeing things. Winter just arrived. You are right. They have a whole different cycle. I just feel sorry for those buds as they have a lot of cold to endure yet, but the trees know best. m a

  3. Harry, Try this idea out when thinking about dormancy – the native conifers in the higher elevations experience two drought periods per normal year, one in summer when the precipitation is very low, and the other in winter when the water is the ground is frozen,

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