The pussy willows are out at the Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, Minnesota, and the Canada geese are nesting. Red-winged blackbirds are staking out their territories in the wetland, trilling their songs from atop reeds and cattails. A few early green plants are poking out from under the oak-leaf litter.
My friend L., her daughter E., and I took a walk around the wetland this morning. It's a short loop that takes us over a float bridge across the wetland, and through the woods and across a couple of small streams.
I was the first to make a find: A dime, half-buried in the mud near the picnic area. As we walked along the muddy trail, we looked for signs of deer, but only saw shoe-prints, and a few marks that could have been from anything.
L. had the next find, a dead tree that showed marks from both beavers and woodpeckers. Then, at the first stream crossing, we noted that there was still ice among the reeds, even though the ice is out in the big Twin-Cities lakes already. There were several sets of animal prints in the mud under the bridge: raccoon pawprints, goose footprints, and some paw prints that could have been from a small dog or perhaps some other small mammal.
I remarked that I didn't see any green shoots yet, but E., aged 6-1/2, pointed out plant after plant that was peeking out from amongst the leaves. My excuse is that she is several feet closer to the ground than I am.
Once we got to the wetland itself, we saw a pair of mallards. The geese, too, were paired up already, and we saw several that were deep in the reeds, presumably sitting on nests. One gander motorboated angrily at us through the water. The footbridge was messy with goose poop. As we were crossing, E. exclaimed, "An egg! Look, an egg!" I thought she was misinterpreting a splotch of white bird poop as an egg, but indeed it was an egg, a big fat goose egg sitting right on the planking. That must have been a very misguided goose. We all felt a bit sad for the abandoned egg, but it is early in the season, and there's plenty of time to start another clutch.
There were gulls out near the water, too. As soon as we re-entered the woods, we could hear a variety of bird-chatter in the trees. Crossing the next creek, we could hear the water trickling over a natural rock-dam. There was a lot of ice still in the creek; the spring sun hasn't yet been strong enough to melt it under all the trees, bare though they are.
Later, going home in the car, we recapped who had seen what, and who had been the first to make a find on our nature walk.
I was thinking of the pussy willows and the beaver tree when E. said, "Well,Carol found a dime!"
I'm waiting for turtle season, which is better than 10 dimes in my mind.