Friday, February 14, 2020

A Different Tree (actually a different location)

By the shores of Lake LaBonte, by the shining snow and ice ...
I changed my mind about tree-following. I won't be at the Art Building on the university campus again, but at LaBonte Park. I haven't decided a tree yet, just the location.

In case you're new to the concept, tree-following means checking a tree once a month, and reporting on it at the virtual gathering kindly hosted by The Squirrelbasket. We choose a different tree each year (if we want, the rules aren't rigid). This project was started by Lucy Corrander eight or nine years ago (if I remember right). I was quickly hooked. It's fascinating! Consider joining us (more here).

LaBonte Park is a small park in town with a pond called LaBonte Lake. It was this lake that drew me to the park, for it has mysterious origins. Old timers say it was a quarry. Geologists attribute it to the convoluted system of caverns and tunnels that lurk below. I like the second hypothesis. Surely there are elves, fairies, gnomes and such in the catacombs. They must have an explanation too, and a good one.

The park has plenty of trees, but most look to be the usual landscaping varieties: poplars, cottonwoods, hawthorns and lots of conifers—mainly spruce with some pines.
Above and below: a healthy spruce on the shore of LaBonte Lake.
But then I spotted something different, and a likely candidate for tree-following.
Even though the leaves were dried, curled and wind-tattered, it was clearly an oak. I like trees I can identify!
Early on my stroll through the park, I saw a man cross-county skiing on the thin snow and big patches of bare grass—so odd, even funny! But I didn't stare. Then I realized ... he was simply on his way to the lake, where he took off skiing near shore (shallow water sure to be frozen).
Later I spotted him halfway around the pond.
It was neat to see ski tracks winding through emergent wetland plants. I would love to try this! Maybe next month ...