Earliest whispers of spring — #berkshireweekend

A bale of turtles. That’s the collective noun we find for the gathering on a rock by the water, all basking in the unexpected warmth of a late winter day.

I got to chase the edge of spring this weekend. It was an unexpected trip to be with family … the kind you don’t see coming, the kind you take because sometimes time with people matters inexpressably.

We were a way south of here, and in a quiet moment we were walking through a public garden, along the edge of the pond. The earliest blubs are showing there, lenten roses and crocuses, the first venturesome trees in bloom. And in the water an early mallard drake was sharing the shallows with a cluster of dark green shells and striped heads lifted in the sunlight …

They make me wonder now, how many of our turtles do I know? Up here I’ve seen painted turtles with the red highlights along their shells. But a few weeks ago, in the Hoosic River Watershed’s office, photographs reminded me of the life in our waterways and the creatures who will be stirring soon in the vernal pools.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an eastern bog turtle with a shell pattern like amber shelf mushrooms. I’ve certainly never seen one building a domed grass shelter for the night.

Up in the fragile wetlands with the mats of sphagnum moss, I’ve never seen a bog turtle three inches long with a yellow splash on the throat, or a spotted turtle hunting frogs …

I did hear my first peepers of the season though, on Monday night, walking witih my mother in woods near my parents’ house on the Connecticut coast. We came to a hollow near an old stone quarry. You can see the shape of a half-formed millstone still rounding the side of a glacial erratic and the channels left by a stone drill. A pool forms there, and my mother says the frogs always sing there first, every spring.

And early flowering tree opens clusters of yellow blossoms at Brookside Gardens in Maryland.
Photo by Kate Abbott

And early flowering tree opens clusters of yellow blossoms at Brookside Gardens in Maryland.


More events coming up …

Wildflowers bloom in the meadows at the Spruces in late summer ith mountains on the horizon.
Apr 13 2024 @ 2:00 pm
Are you interested in the future of the Spruces? Come chat with members of the Williamstown Conservation Commission about the park.
A boy and a lamb walk by the pasture at Hancock Shaker Village.
Apr 14 2024 @ 11:00 am
Hancock Shaker Village welcomes visitors to meet their newest farm babies – lambs, piglets, calves, chicks and kid goats, and enjoy events and activities throughout the Village.
A boy and a lamb walk by the pasture at Hancock Shaker Village.
Apr 15 2024 @ 11:00 am
Hancock Shaker Village welcomes visitors to meet their newest farm babies – lambs, piglets, calves, chicks and kid goats, and enjoy events and activities throughout the Village.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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