If you need some optimism in your life at the moment you only need to go visit the outdoors to experience it. Take a hike at Westfield and not only look, but listen to the hopeful signs of the forest coming awake. Westfield is one place where you can come and experience the peace and quiet and literally hear the forest growing as the buds start to open and the leaves spring to life.
One of the earliest trees to bud and flower is the Red Maple. While this tree can be used in maple syrup production it is not the favoured species. The early buds and flowers have a negative effect on the sap so the season is very short lived for this tree. Did you know that two Red Maples side by side can look very different from each other in spring while flowering? A Red Maple can produce all male flowers, all female flower or a combination of both. Each type looking distinctively different. Look up the next time you’re taking a walk to see the beautiful red hued canopy. As our Conservation Technician, Jack, likes to say: “Look for the red popcorn effect.”
While you can literally hear the leaves popping open from their tight buds there is another sound that is a sure indication that spring has sprung. Spring peepers are a small chorus frog so called for their chirping call that marks the beginning of spring. This frog is tan or brown in colour with a dark cross or ‘X’ on it’s back although that is not always easy to see. They have large toe pads for climbing, but seem to spend more time on the forest floor amongst the loose debris. This frog has a vocal sac that expands and deflates like a balloon to create a short and distinct peeping sound. Only the male frog can make this loud, high pitched sound using it to attract mates. They come awake at night, and sometimes during the day when it is dark, warm and humid, to eat beetles, ants, flies and spiders. Experience their sound by clicking here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pseudacris-crucifer-002.ogg
A very familiar sign of spring is the daffodil flower that pops it’s head up throughout the Village in the gardens, under trees and along the fence rows. With a history that expands as far back as ancient times, to being formally described in 1753, and to the late 19th century when it became a commercial crop, in some parts of the world, this flower seems right at home at Westfield.
Westfield is open for hikes and walks seven days a week. If you plan to come out remember your tick precautions. Yes, ticks are also very much awake in the spring, but there are some simple and useful things you can do to protect yourself. Wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants. Wear socks and closed toed shoes. Tuck your pants into your socks. Use bug repellant. Avoid bushy areas and long grass. Stay on the path. At the end of your walk check for ticks on yourself and remember to check your pet too. Cost to enter starts at $15.50 per car load or use your HCA membership card for contactless entry.