Natural Peterborough: April Showers and Spring Flowers

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As a local of the Peterborough area, one of my favourite things about home is the walking paths, nature conservancies, and promotion of things green and lovely. Not to say our area is perfect or that expansion developments and the greedy upheaval of capitalism are not constantly creeping ever further into the hearts and minds of the local inhabitants.

However, there is still a larger than usual body of individuals who love the natural world around us, whether for the health benefits associated with walking, hiking, biking, and/or those who enjoy feelin part of the beautiful, natural flora and fauna that is abundant in our area. 

It is in this spirit that I should like to introduce a series about the natural world around us, and to encourage all of you to spend more time smelling the roses. Each month Arthur will feature some exciting plants, constellations, and organisms that are out and about in the Kawarthas.

Let’s talk about April!

School is nearly over; just hang on a few more weeks! While you are eagerly studying, finishing assignments and the like don’t forget to look out your window; amazing things are happening outside! Spring has sprung! Well, mostly. Though the snow is not yet gone, there is so much life coming back from migration, as well as the beginnings of new plant and animal life. 

April is a big month for change and movement; tree swallows can be seen over the Otonabee, turtles and other amphibious creatures, like spotted and blue spotted salamanders, will be coming out of hibernation (so be careful when driving), trees are budding, and mid-month elm trees are beginning to flower.

One of the first signs of spring is the wild leek; seeing their little sprouts through the receding snow is so welcomed after a cold, snowy, and dreary winter. This plant is a perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like scent and pungent onion flavour. Both the green outer leaves and the white stalks are edible and grow in clumps. They have deep roots and can be found all over eastern North America.

Leo is the signature constellation of the month and can be seen in the southeastern sky. It is a fairly recognizable constellation and easy to find; the “pointer stars”  of the Big Dipper point to Leo. The mythology surrounding this constellation comes from the Greek legends about Hercules the demi-god. Leo is the Nemean Lio which was killed by Hercules as part of the 12 labours he had to preform. This lion terrorized local citizens, and it had a hide that could not be punctured by iron, bronze, or stone. Hercules ended up breaking all his weapons trying to kill the lion only to get frustrated and kill it by strangulation. He then hung it in the heavens as one of his conquests.

The Eastern Meadowlark is a beautiful field bird. Considered medium-sized with a narrow and long beak, they have short tails and a distinct flight pattern made up of short sequences of rapid flaps and short glides, typically close to the ground. Their colours are pale brown with black speckling, and very bright yellow underparts with a distinct black “v” near its neck. 

Check back in during May for the next instalment of Natural Peterborough!