Sunday was warm and sunny (well, for January in north central West Virginia) and so we took a walk around the trail in Veterans Park, down the hill and across the river from our house. Most of the path was free of ice and snow. There was a fine paper-wasp nest on a sycamore branch leaning out over the river, and further along, back near the parking lot, Robert spotted a bluebird. It had been 25 years since we saw a bluebird, when we lived in Tennessee. I almost missed it, being busy puzzling over a huge and unusual earthworm, until he pointed out that it was a plastic fishing worm.
This morning I swept the sour gum balls from the patio before more snow accumulated. The sweet gum is a beautiful tree, shading the patio, providing shelter near the feeder for the birds, turning a glowing deep red in the fall, and belonging to a genus with a beautiful name, Liquidambar. The early settlers chewed the sticky sweet resin. The seed balls are interesting, but harder to keep clear than leaves. They fall in batches when it is warm and sunny; wind, rain, and snow don’t seem to bring them down.