A Year in the Yard: Mid-January

Brrrr! The frosty breath of winter has arrived, with temperatures ranging from single digits overnight to 20’s during the day. We also got some snow!

Snowy Spruce 2Though it was only about an inch or so, the snow nestled right down into the boughs of the evergreens.

As I peered out into my backyard, various birds were vying for food at the feeders…red-winged blackbirds, starlings, grackles, and cowbirds bullied everyone else out for a while, though a red-bellied woodpecker finally made its way to the suet.



Today, it was a balmy 35 degrees and sunny, so I ventured out to Judge Morris Estate to see what was happening. It was nice to cross through the meadow with the sun warming my back before heading into the cool of the forest. Once inside, the paths were a bit icy in places, so I picked my way carefully down the trail. A pileated woodpecker called his familiar “wuk” in the distance, and I caught a flash of his red head as he flew deftly through the trees.

Black raspberry

Black raspberry cane

Along the way, a stand of holly brightened the otherwise brown tangles of brush and fallen trees, while black raspberry canes added a purplish hue to the edge of the trail.

I came upon a forest elder, a downed beech tree, still giving life to the forest. As it slowly decays with the help of the fungi, this dead tree provides shelter, food, and habitat to wildlife.

I headed back up the hill and past the estate to go visit the pond.

Judge Morris Estate pond

Judge Morris pond

Sweet gum pods, cattails, and American lotus were captured where last they fell, and bare trees framed the blue sky. Remnants of visitors were left behind in the snow at the water’s edge…

It was lovely to sit on a bench facing the sun, taking in the reflection of the water and soaking up the warmth and light. Ahhh.

Pond at Judge Morris

Pond at Judge Morris

I headed back home and glanced at the flower beds out front, when I saw something white and green, hidden under the dead foliage…snowdrops! I didn’t encounter any at the park, but my front yard gets sun all day and is sheltered a bit from the wind. Before we know it, skunk cabbage will pop up in the wetlands with its exotic-looking flower, and then crocuses won’t be far behind.



The daylight is growing longer and signs of spring will slowly start appearing, so hang in there during the cold days! Get outside for a little sunshine to lift your spirit and listen to how the bird chatter changes as the season moves along.

Ah, one last thing for this week. If you haven’t already, please recycle your Christmas tree if you used a live one. You can lay them in a corner of your backyard as habitat and cover for wildlife this winter or take it to be mulched at the local yard waste recycling site (there’s one on Pollydrummond Hill in Newark). PLEASE do not just throw them in the trash.

Recycle your tree

Till next time!

Greenly blessings,



About earthgrl

Herbalist, Naturalist, and Reiki Master posts her observations, musings, and hard-earned wisdom about the natural world and how it speaks to our spirit and heals us, inside and out.
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