This Season at Baltimore Woods…

By Becky Wilson, Environmental Educator

January has arrived and a thick coat of ice covers Phillips Pond. Quiet and still, it’s a perfect spot to pause and consider your role as a quiet observer. Snow covers the land like a blanket, keeping the creatures underground warm and cozy. The trees sigh with the weight of winter, their buds closed and waiting for the warmth of spring.

The collective heartbeat of the land lies deep below, dreaming of the sun. Not all animals have the option of sleeping through the cold. A red fox travels by the pond, listening, smelling, looking for food. It’s much harder to find a decent meal during winter, but the fox is a skilled hunter. An unlucky mouse moving underneath the snow will likely  become lunch.

As the months move on through freezing February days and into the various moods of March, subtle changes occur at the pond. The ground begins to thaw slowly, the ice starts to melt, and sap flows through the trees, waking them up. The buds on their branches become swollen, ready to burst as the spring equinox arrives. A sign of longer days of sunshine to come. When winter breaks its icy grip at last, vibrant life springs forth once more. Under the still waters of the pond, aquatic insects like damselflies and dragonfly larvae zoom this way or that, in search of the energy that sustains them.

A red-tailed hawk screams into the wind, opening her wings to soar, circling high above the pond. Her eyes scan over you, standing along the bank, just another link in the chain of life at The Woods.