Yesterday morning when I walked out on the porch, it was so slippery that I thought for a moment that it had frosted during the night. I then realized that there was a film of yellow pollen over the porch and steps which acted as as a fine lubricant. Wiping the railing, I found that my finger tips were covered with the powder-like pollen. I had to hold on the railing as I climbed down the steps for fear of slipping. My car and the windshield were also covered with it. This happens every year. This year it coincided with some warm weather that we had for the past two days. I am almost certain that this pollen is coming from the Douglas Fir trees that surround my house, but I didn’t check the male cones. When shaken they produce a great cloud of pollen during this time of year. Luckily, I don’t seem to be allergic to pollen from this species.
I am enclosing some more photos. To the left is the fiddle head from my least favorite fern–the Bracken Fern(Pteridium aquilinum) that I have mentioned before. They are coming up everywhere like weeds–which they are! They occur worldwide and is such a pest in Britain that they initiated a program to control their spread. People eat them like asparagus as I said before, but this fern contains carcinogens, and in areas where they are consumed regularly such as Japan, the occurrence of stomach cancer is among the highest in the world.
I also found that the Horsetails (Equisetum) are coming up in my yard. They used to be used as scouring pads because of the large amount of silicon in their cell walls. These are a primitive group of Vascular Plants (containing tubes) that reproduce by spores instead of seeds. The strobilus, shown here, is the spore producing body which in this area comes up before the photosynthetic stems. The photosynthetic vegetative stems can be quite attractive, especially when they catch the light in shaded areas, but they can be a nuisance because of their tendency to spread.
It is also that time of year for my old friend the Dandelion (Taraxcum sp.) to blossom forth in all its glory. I had very few Dandelions until I disturbed my yard a few years ago in order to empty the septic tank. This disturbance in the grassy lawn was all it took for them to take hold with a vengeance. I just gave in and learned to enjoy their beauty before they go to seed and become all raggedy. The Dandelions in the Northwestern U.S. are the most beautiful that I have ever seen. They seem to be larger and deeper yellow than those I have observed elsewhere.
The birds are also singing their little heads off. Like clockwork on April 1 in open areas, I heard the White Crowned Sparrow (Poor little me, deep!). About my house, I hear the species that are most common to the woods and boundary areas. The WinterWren, the Robin, the Varied Thrush along with the Chestnut Backed Chickadee are all singing loudly. The Spotted Towhee is just getting started and will remain the most vocal bird in the area through July. Also, although I have seen the Song Sparrow , it has barely begun vocalizing. Soon it will become, like the Towhee, one of the most heard bird around my house.