|HUGE OLD BLACK WILLOW SOUTH OF BAYFIELD, SHOWING SIGNS OF SPRING|
|DITTO SOUTH OF WASHBURN BUT "NOT SO MUCH"|
|WEEPING WILLOW ON N. 2ND ST. IN BAYFIELD|
Northlanders who heat with Propane are having a hard time paying their bills, as even those with large tanks filled when summer prices were low are now facing refills at way over $5 per gallon. And for those so inclined, this weekend is Bayfield's annual Winterfest, replete with the obligatory "polar plunge" through a hole in the lake ice, for the adventuresome. Not I.
When the snow is waist deep in the woods and the thermometer has bottomed out, when I am finally really sick and tired of winter in the Northland, it is time to look for signs of spring, the first of which are the willow trees, whose young branchlets begin to turn visibly colorful right about now.
Even the massive old black willows cannot resist the warmth of the returning sun, and are beginning to assume an orange halo. But the most obvious indicator of the inevitability of spring is the weeping willow, Salix babylonica, of European origin and much escaped from cultivation. And of course the catkins of the wild pussy willows, Salix discolor, will soon be blooming down at the beech ( I'll see if I can find one that isn't impossible to get to in all this snow).