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Nature's Notebook

Spring fever

Nature's Notebook

The water is high, and with all the snowmelt I can see bare ground for the first time since the turn of the year. The frozen earth has a skin of deepening mud, as those who travel our unpaved country roads will discover anew as the weather warms in the coming weeks.
I can remember mud season from when I was growing up in Millbrook, N.Y., when dirt roads became impassible to anything smaller than farm machinery, and these left deep gummy ruts, rimmed overnight with brittle ice teeth.

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Extinction of the Eastern Cougar

Nature's Notebook

I thought writing a column on the recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that the Eastern Cougar was extinct would be easy; the cougar was here and now it is not. Simple; 20 minutes and I would be done.
Wrong! Aside from the usual confusion over the common name for the same animal (cougar, puma, catamount, mountain lion, etc.), what I did not count on was the disagreement among scientists on species and subspecies names.

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Butternut syrup

Nature's Notebook

There is a sad, shabby butternut in my backyard. Like virtually all of its kind since a devastating fungus took hold across its range, it festers with weeping cankers, and a number of its branches are bare and broken. The diseased wood beneath the bark is probably dark and spongy, which is a real shame for a lovely furniture wood, and it makes me sad for the tree.
Still, it has been this way for nearly a decade and it struggles on from year to year.

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