Our part of the Mid-Atlantic hasn't had much snow this season (thank goodness), but we did receive two inches of snow followed by a light coating of sleet on Wednesday, January 28. The first weekend of February remained snowy, but I went out for a walk on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, my walk took me to the local preserve where I walked on untrodden snow for most of the walk--until I got to the trail that parallels the creek, which had been thoroughly packed down by visitors into an uneven, ankle-twisting stretch of ice. I spent some time photographing my favorite American beech forest. The images weren't extraordinary, so I haven't uploaded them. However, just as I entered the woods to photograph the beeches, I routed a Red-tailed Hawk that circled through the open woods a few times and then disappeared.
Further along the trail, near the creek, I photographed a hornbeam tree. I really love hornbeams (Carpinus caroliniana). First, I love their common names: hornbeam (what the heck does that mean, anyway?), ironwood (because the wood is extremely hard and so dense that it sinks in water) and, above all, musclewood (a reference to the trunk's similarity to a man's sinewy muscles). I can't resist caressing the trunk when I take the time to stop and enjoy it.
On Sunday, we went for a walk in a nearby public park. By the afternoon, temperatures had warmed into the low 50s, snow was melting, and the path in the park was free of ice and full of walkers. The sky was crystalline blue like it only gets in the winter here. (My brother-in-law, who lives in California, calls the skies here in the Mid-Atlantic "Eastern gray" because, even when it's not cloudy, the sky has that characteristic haze that makes summertime sky images white or pale gray. )