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Springtime in and around the wetlands

Apr 17, 2015, 8:57am


Pussy willow, one of the earliest harbingers of springtime and perhaps the most short-lived. Within a couple days the catkins will turn yellow and flowery in appearance.  


Oxbow marsh on Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. A stopover for both migrating and nesting waterfowl.


Phragmite reflections on the surface of a vernal pool. How long the water lasts here depends on the seasonal rainfall. But the creatures whose procreation depends on such a pool are great barometers and get things under way accordingly. Wood frogs, spring peepers and salamanders are among the visitors who come here to breed.


A late afternoon sun illuminates the trees along Oak Orchard creek on a calm spring evening. Though placid-looking, the water level is presently well above normal as is the current.


Pussy willow stands out in contrast against background evergreens.

Rich Richmond

Two things remind me of the celebration of spring above all else they being pollywogs and pussy willows.

I attended John Kennedy School in the early sixties before all the development of homes and apartments behind it in that area of the city.

It was swampy back there and flooded every spring; the water full of leopard frog pollywogs and acres of pussy willows and naturally as a small boy both were treasures to be coveted. My mother always forgave my wet muddy clothes when I brought home jars full of pollywogs for me and bunches of pussy willows for her.

Thanks for the pictures Jim and here is a poem by Dot McGinnis to go along with them called “The Legend of Pussy Willows”.

A Polish legend tells the tale
Of tiny kittens, oh, so frail.

Along the river's edge they chased.
With butterflies, they played and raced.

They came too close to the river's side
And, thus, fell in. Their mother cried.

What could she do but weep and moan?
Her babies' fate were yet unknown.

The willows, by the river, knew
Just what it was that they must do.

They swept their graceful branches down
Into the waters, all around.

To reach the kittens was their goal;
A rescue mission, heart and soul.

The kittens grasped the branches tight.
The willows saved them from their plight.

Each springtime since, the story goes,
Willow branches now wear clothes.

Tiny fur like buds are sprung
Where little kittens once had clung.

And that’s the legend, so they claim,
How Pussy Willows Got Their Name!

Apr 17, 2015, 11:08am Permalink

Richard Richmond II, Ditto what ED said.
And those are some great memories you mentioned. In addition to the flooded timber back of JK, do you recall the "pond" next to the dirt lane that connected North Spruce St. and Evergreen Drive? A wooden raft, catching pollywogs & mudpuppies in the spring and ice skating in the winter. .........I'm thankful for having grown up when and where!!!!!

Apr 17, 2015, 2:04pm Permalink
Rich Richmond

Yes I remember; they are good memories Jim and there were a more than one pond in the general vicinity if you went in on the Bank Street side at the end of Ross Street.

We called one of them the brick pond because somebody at one time dumped yellow bricks back there. The deepest was called the turtle pond full of Eastern Painted Turtles.

Do you remember before Chandler Avenue was expanded and became a through Street to Bank and the Medical Buildings and such were built that was all open fields all the way to Ross Street.

There was an open drainage ditch that emptied into the storm sewer on the Ross Street and went right underneath the road. Back in the day when the weather was dry we had a secret club house of sorts underneath the storm sewer and could wander underneath the City with our flashlights.

Apr 17, 2015, 2:53pm Permalink
Tim Miller

Nice pics!

I remember my brother and cousins telling me that the pussywillow pods excreted a liquid that would scar you - and they'd show their rubella shot scars as proof. I believed them.

Apr 17, 2015, 3:04pm Permalink

Thats funny Tim....on a similar note my father told me his vaccination scar was from being shot in the war.....also told me the crescent moon was one of his fingernails.

p.s. thanks!

Apr 17, 2015, 4:30pm Permalink
Mardell Lamb

Hi Jim,
Aaah, great memories from my youth once again. My brothers and cousins trekked to "Pollywog Pond" back in the late 60's, early 70's here in Pavilion. A walk through woods and terrain, carrying mason jars and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches that my Aunt Pat prepared for us. It was a full day in the hot sun, scratches from branches and weeds, and bug bites. We returned home with jars full of pollywogs. What great memories!

And who doesn't LOVE pussywillows?!

Thanks, Jim.
Have a great weekend, you & Claudia. Supposed to beautiful out. Enjoy.

Apr 17, 2015, 5:49pm Permalink

Hi Mardell,
Thanks much for sharing your memories of yesteryear - so easy to relate to and we so enjoy them.
Claudia and I got an early jump on the weekend - we started out to break in a new camera and came across a slew of wild leeks growing in a nearby woodlot. It'll be a ham & leeks dinner come Sunday!!!!

Apr 17, 2015, 6:08pm Permalink
Mardell Lamb

Looking forward to seeing more pictures; esp. with the new camera, Jim. Are leeks and "ramps" the same? Either way, what a wonderful dinner you have planned for Sun. What's for dessert?!

Apr 17, 2015, 6:51pm Permalink

Mardell, as far as I know, "ramps" are the woodland variety of leeks - I don't know if that term is used in the supermarket produce section.

Apr 17, 2015, 8:08pm Permalink

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