The promise of spring


We’ve been having some unusually warm temperatures for this time of year, but it has turned colder again. I took some photos in the field during those warmer days.

A few days ago the milkweed pods were at their best in our field.

“Densely packed in a little oblong chest, armed with soft, downy prickles, and lined with a smooth, silky lining, lie some hundreds of seeds, pear shaped, or like a steelyard’s poise, which have derived their nutriment through a band of extremely fine, silken threads, attached by their extremities to the core” (Thoreau, 1902, p. 205 in The Poet-Naturalist).

Yellow dog and I watched as some of the seeds blew away in the breeze. Looking at all the seeds in the field–Dandelion, Milkweed, Alfalfa, Wild Carrot–I was thinking about the many ages that these plants have reproduced themselves, and how reassuring it is that they always know spring will come.

“I watched this milkweed seed, for the time…disappearing in the skies. How many myriads go sailing away at this season,–high over hill and meadow and river…on various tacks, until the wind lulls, who can tell how many miles! And for this end these silken streamers have been perfecting all summer, snugly packed in this light chest, a prophecy not only of the fall, but of future springs” (Thoreau, 1902, p. 204 in The Poet-Naturalist).

For years I’ve been wondering what this growth on some of the Juniper trees is, as I’ve seen it in various stages of development through the seasons. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture indicates that it is a type of fungus, called Cedar-Apple Rust, that is common in our area (the eastern end of Lake Ontario). It can cause damage to apple trees and Junipers are an alternate host.

I’ve been trying to ID this spider for awhile and the closest I’ve come is the Ogre Faced Stick Spider (someone was having fun with names). I was interested in how it suddenly turned into a stick when I accidentally bumped the dead Wild Carrot plant.


Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. Food and Rural Affairs, Cedar-Apple Rust and Quince Rust:

Cornell University. Cedar-Apple Rust Fact Sheet:

Note: The owners of referenced or linked-to materials do not endorse me or this site.

22 Responses to “The promise of spring”
  1. Breathtaking photos, Cait! I love seeing the detail in the unusual subjects! The quote and the interesting facts you provided create additional interest that I really appreciate.

  2. montucky says:

    I love your photos, Cait! They are excellent!

    The seeds that are broadcast on the wind caught my imagination many years ago and the fascination with them is still there. Milkweed especially, with its silky hair. So pretty!

    I really like the name of that spider. Somehow it really fits. A spider like that deserves a special name and someone certainly came up with one!

    • Cait says:

      Thanks montucky, you’re too kind! I wish I’d thought to photograph the spider’s face, as it’s supposed to be quite interesting looking (if it actually was that type of spider). Hopefully, I’ll cross paths with another one someday. Hope you are enjoying all your snow!

  3. Your close-ups are excellent. Also like the bare tree branches against the fading light.

  4. sandy says:

    I love your close ups, too. The milkweed seeds look like they are dancing off to a new life.

    That is a new spider to me. I will have to keep an eye out for it. What camouflage!

  5. Cait says:

    Thanks Sandy, “dancing off to a new life” sounds just right! There’s something about that spider’s camouflage that reminds me of a yoga pose.

  6. missusk76 says:

    Stunning images, Cait! Truly beautiful. The wonder is that we all don’t wonder more!

  7. donald says:

    if only spring were just around the corner! more great shots!

  8. Wonderful images, Cait! As always – and what I really appreciate after reading your thoughts on mindfulness is the delicate precision that each photo reveals. The seeds set against the clear autumn light, the translucent sheen. Like gossamer carrying them away, floating them into a following season.

  9. Sue J says:

    I love photographing milkweed pods, too. I don’t quite know why I am so fascinated with them, but I guess we’re in good company to see Thoreau was just as interested in them!

    • Cait says:

      This is really the first year I’ve ever photographed them, but I have always appreciated them, too. Yes, we’re in good company and thanks for coming by, Sue!

  10. Thank you for showing us the beauty of this world…up close. Up really close. I love it.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Cait says:

      Thanks Jessie, for your appreciation of the small worlds out there! I’ve really been admiring your photography, writing and music – so creative.
      Hope you have a great holiday!

  11. Barbara says:

    What a lovely sunset, Cait, with the tree branches silhouetted against the sky. The world of milkweeds – it seems so amazing that people, like Thoreau, used to have time to observe the small details of plants and animals, and plenty of time to write about the worlds around them. And today we have nature photographers like you to help us see these same wonderful worlds.

    You have reminded me again of an Alix Kates Shulman quote:
    “Within walking distance of any spot on Earth there’s probably more than enough mystery to investigate in a lifetime.”

    Amazing photos!

    • Cait says:

      Barbara, thanks so much for your kind words about my photos and for the quote, which I really appreciate. It is incredible, everything there is to investigate just within walking distance. Thank you for taking the time to share that 🙂

  12. donald says:

    is your camera frozen up there? been weeks since you last post. thought you fell off the face of the earth until you commented on my photo on facebook the other day! glad to know you are at least alive!!!

    • Cait says:

      I suppose it might as well be frozen, lol! Thanks for checking in, donald! I’ve just been busy…but it’s nice to hear from you and keep in touch despite that. Take care and enjoy all that snow. It looks like the snow you’re sending our way might get here soon.

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