Unless our eyes were constantly upon the fields, forests and fairways, we did not see auburn become emerald, winter become summer-like, and most things wild become camouflaged by these transformations.
Miniscule green specks inside leaves, those powerful solar collectors of life as we know them, were at work preparing to power nearly every food chain.
Broad-leafed herbs, shrubs and trees are having their way concealing our penetrating eyes from within the forests.
There must be dozens of words that say lush, green vegetation, which comes in tones, hues and shades of green. All told, there are usually other plant pigments mixed about; some appear before a forest becomes this giant, green tomb.
Yellows and reds sometimes dominate green chlorophylls; at least for a while before most parts give in to green’s dominance. These early accessory pigments remind us of what will reappear in autumn; golden leaves, ripe fruits; and bronze nuts.
While this leaf maturation is finishing, companion parts are green, too. Cones, tree flowers, young fruits and immature twigs carry the many shades of green throughout spring.
Most immature wildlife uses some white or black to camouflage their ordinary brown. Fawn spots, masked faces, and yellow and black feathers help animals blend into their environments.
Early, it seems, fawns have been reported, some even hand-captured and collared for the continuing deer predator study. Signage appears on public land walkways alerting hikers to consider reporting any fawns in an assist to the department.
Morel mushrooms are becoming so well camouflaged that shortages for outstate shipments exist. Maybe there really is a scarcity of these fungi this year, as there was last year, too. It’s too complicated to guess the single most dominant reason, among a cold April; late spring; lack of early snow; and elms disappearing from the landscape due to a different fungus, the Dutch elm disease pathogen.
Mycologists also remind us that morel mushrooms do most of their growing and food storage during late summer, so conditions during that period are equally important, maybe more so than what happened this spring.
Fishing, too, has been hampered due to cold and rainy conditions, but beware after a few warm spells. Be ready for trout chasing flies and mushroom appearing aplenty.
Plants have not been immune to weather swings, either. Gardens, crops and forests and the ground cover have lagged. Diseases like damping off can take down a tomato seedling quicker than a cutworm during cool, damp conditions.
Tree development continues to change, albeit slowly. Some conifers are developing seed cones, fruit trees are flowering, elm fruits are forming, and stem elongation on oaks is racing. Conifers have started their candle development for longitudinal and horizontal tree expansion.
Wild ginseng, in some locations, is a foot tall. Jack or Jill-in-the-pulpits are appearing in flower.
Wild turkeys are going about the business at hand. Lone hens feed in fields and pastures, probably woods, too, wandering from their egg clutches but returning promptly. Meanwhile the gobblers are confused and seek companionship regardless of how erroneous yelps, clucks and purrs compare to the real thing.
Jakes are becoming braver, now that they are older and some toms are missing from their guard posts.
A thorough, unbiased article on chronic wasting disease can be located by searching CWD: The Evolving Challenge. The piece appeared in the Izaak Walton League magazine and features Bryan Richards, emerging disease coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Disease Center in Madison.
Capture some of these May moments of vegetative and reproductive growth throughout the next weeks as Juneberry flowers become fruits and eventually fruits are food for cedar waxwings.