Another crocus

The colors are so welcome after a long, cold, and very snowy winter:

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First crocus

At last, spring. This weekend my crocuses started blooming. Here’s a closeup, deep in the center of the flower:

_MG_9780-crocus

I saw the first butterflies of the season as well – as usual, they were Mourning Cloaks.

Ice crystals on grass

When the conditions are right, snowflake-like crystals grow on meadow grass.

_MG_4583-crystal

On the Cataract Trail (II)

Another cascade from the Cataract Trail near Mt Tamalpais:

_MG_5039-cascade

Ginkgo leaves

Ginkgo trees sometimes dump all of their leaves at the same time – here’s an image of the scatter of leaves at the base of a tree:

_MG_9818-2gingko

Sorrel

A closeup of a California wildflower. These were blooming all over southern Marin County in grassy areas and roadsides:

_MG_5112-2sorrel

On the Cataract Trail

A waterfall from a trail on the west side of Mt Tamalpais in Marin County: _MG_5046-cascade-trail There are dozens of cascades along the trail, which is quite steep. Despite the lack of rain there was a decent flow in the creek.

Crystal stars

Star-shaped crystals form on stream ice when it gets very cold – in the single digits F. The smaller shapes are stars or crosses, but some forms are masses of pointed crystals. The snow at the edge of a stream can form dense mats of these crystals, and the icy surface can have clusters of starry crystals. Here are a few crystal islands on dark stream ice:

_MG_4926-2-stars

Crystal shapes

Frost crystals grow in different shapes, depending in part on the temperature. On one morning, I found the snowflake-like hexagonal plates you see in one of these images. All of the leaves around this one were covered with them. On another morning, I found rod-like frost crystals. When you get close enough, you can see that the rods are pipes of ice, hollow inside. Click an image to see it in a larger size:

This sort of image – frost on leaves scattered in the ground – is the sort of thing I take in late fall. In early January when I took these, the ground was still bare, and the leaf litter was still visible. Hard to imagine that now, with three or four feet of snow on the ground.

Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’

A closeup of a flower from a recent visit to a local greenhouse:

_MG_4505-plectranthus

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