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What Season is This?

It’s late March in New England.

It’s not really winter anymore (no surprise snowstorms please). It’s not really spring, though daytime temperatures and maple sap are both rising. There is a proper name for it however. Welcome to mud season.

This is the time of year when the Cheshire Land Trust gets out to see what winter has wrought. CLT Steward Katie B. and I went out to the Brooke Preserve on Sperry Road this Sunday. It was a blue-sky Sunday with white billowy clouds. The entrance to the parking lot is a mud bog. Fear not. We roped it off at the start of winter to keep people from getting stuck. Please be careful when you park on the road to walk in. The trails are open. It’s just the lot that is not closed.

We have been working on a plan to reopen the parking area. It’s not a quick fix. But, the snow piles have melted and if we have a stretch of dry weather, we can work on it. If you love this property and you can want to help (heavy equipment, muscles, etc.), just give us a call.

Going up the staircase to the ridge (here’s another project for a weekend or two that could use volunteers), the soil is dry underfoot. That’s good and it made for easy walking. Last year, Nick and Katie with help from the boy scouts did a good job at thinning saplings up on the ridge. The resulting brush piles are perfect protection for many mammals and birds. A big bonus is the improved view of Prospect Ridge across the valley, the western greenbelt. Katie says the sunsets are beautiful from this vantage point.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this space. The blue trail is about a mile loop. It is an easy, meditative walk that winds its way through tall hardwoods, drops down to small ravine to a meandering stream on the northern edge of the property, past wetlands and a four-acre pine forest. Soon enough, spring ephemerals and spring peepers will come out, to be followed by an amazing assortment of forest fungi.

The property is quite special, as well as the habitat is contains. To that, the land trust reminds you to keep your well-behaved dog on-lease and stay on-trail at all times.

This past weekend was going to be the time for our walk with Hamden Land Conservation Trust at Fresh Meadows on Cook Hill. Unfortunately, a quick check the day before revealed thick sheets of ice. The risk of falling was too worrisome to risk it, so we cancelled. This property has been getting a lot of stewardship in the past two years. We are a small, volunteer group, so things take time. The path that leads to the meadow is wider, as we’ve removed a lot of the invasive autumn olive.

The south Cheshire aquifer lies under Fresh Meadows (Cook Hill), so this property tends to be wet, especially in spring. Fresh Meadows used to be a hotspot for salamander, American bullfrogs and other amphibians with two large vernal ponds. Even though trails are a tad muddy and definitely wet, our intention is to try a night-time vernal pool walk this season. Wear your wellies, and you'll be good to go. We'll keep you posted.

CLT steward looking at trees near trail.
Steward Katie B. checks tree canopy.


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