Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Walks, Cottage Lake

"17 degrees," read the dashboard thermometer in the car, which meant the street surface a few feet down from that thermometer was actually several degrees colder.

A morning made for black ice, and indeed many road signs in the area warn "Watch for ice."

A mass of Arctic air lumbering into the Puget Sound region this past week brought the first killing frost along with the icy roads and encrusted windshields.

White crystals have outlined leaves and blades of grass in shady spots, fooling one into thinking it's snowed.

Before the cold snap hit, I took a walk to Bassett Pond to take in the lovely hay-and-smoke coloring of the leafless branches and the beauty of the white-trunked birches with their tracery of dark twigs. A few days later, the pond had frozen over and the last of the bright green mosses and ferns had faded into mushy clumps.

 Strands of Methuselah's Beard Lichen (tentative identification)

Bracken, already brown and crisp while many native ferns are still glossy green

Bassett Pond, late November

Bassett Pond, late November

A blaze of redtwig dogwoods  

Labradorus woofus in its natural habitat 

Fungus called Witch's Butter with moss

Bassett Pond, frozen

Close-up of frozen pond and its contents