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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note of any observations you have made of the world around you.  Insects, weather, fish, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
Seattle. February 14, 2013.

We've had a relatively mild winter here in the Pacific Northwest. Even so, there have been long periods of deep grey damp, where what light there is presses down on your shoulders as you walk, slowing your gait and forcing you to consider the details.

The edges of the forest are sheltered, some by proximity to water, others by a southern exposure. This week I found the first ripe Western Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) catkins of the year near the eastern lakeshore  When flicked, they shed bright yellow pollen. Deeper in the Forest, the Hazelnut Catkins are still tight.

February 5, 2013. Ripe Western Hazelnut catkin.Feb 5, 2013. Western Hazelnut catkin.
A month or so will pass before the air in the Forest is redolent with the fragrance of Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) but on the southern edge of the Forest their lowest branches have begun to bear heavily resinous buds. If you don't mind looking silly you can hold them up to your nose and time-travel forward to April.

The first blossoms of the Forest's Red Flowering-Currants (Ribes sanguineum) appear every year in a tiny sheltered wetland just up from the northern tip of the Forest peninsula. These will not as "bloody" as their scientific name might suggest, instead blooming the palest of pale pink.

February 5, 2013. Flowering Red-currant leaf and flower buds.Feb 5, 2013. Flowering Red-currant leaf and flower buds.
In the past these have mingled with the first of the Forest's Osoberry (Oemlaria cerasiformis) blossoms. Not this year. The neighboring Osoberries failed during the dry season last year. A small percentage of Osoberry seem to fail in the Forest every dry season, yet new Osoberry shoots appear nearby each spring. I am not sure why this is, but am glad of it.

There's a place up at the northern crest of the Forest peninsula that the oldest walkers recollect as "Deer Walk", a place where civilized food was left out for the deer who once lived in the Forest. No deer have walked here for a long time, but the plants in this almost open place would be a feast for them if they chose to return - wild cherry and wild roses and so many native berries - creeping, sprawling, closing in towards the center. Ranks of Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) line the clearing edges, their canes just now changing from beige to bright russet.

February 5, 2013. Salmonberry thicket.Feb 5, 2013. Salmonberry thicket.
These will bloom in about a month. The Forest's first Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) have just emerged from the mossy duff under their legs.

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Everyone is welcome to toss their observations into the Bucket. What's been going on in your natural neighborhood the last couple of days? The hope is that our notes will be of value to future naturalists who might wonder about the way our neighborhoods looked before their time.

I'll be back in the early afternoon PST.

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