Winter solstice offering

Solstice Earthstars, Crow, and Offerings

I didn’t get out much in our recent snow, but today hiked out to see if I could find any hygroscopic earthstars (Astraeus hygrometricus). The best time to see them is after a good snow has melted; usually I find a lot of them between January and April.

Here’s one that is half open. The main body of a hygroscopic earthstar is a round sac that holds the spores. When it’s wet, the outer skin unfolds into rays (they look a bit like petals) which push the spore sac off the ground. When a clump of snow or a raindrop hits the exposed spore sac, spores are released and can be spread. Then when it’s dry, the rays protectively curl back in again.

Earthstar half open in snow
Earthstar half open in snow

Earthstars are one of my favorite wintertime delights. Here’s a photo from last year of one fully open:

Hygroscopic earthstar in my hand for size reference
Hygroscopic earthstar in my hand for size reference

I also like getting out in the snow in order to see who has been moving around the mountain. Today there was very little snow left, but I still saw some crow tracks. The crow family that lives here has shifted their territory slightly, and they no longer congregate in front of the house every morning in the early hours to caw and cackle about the day’s events. I see them regularly, but not nearly as much as in former years, so it was nice to find these tracks today.

Crow tracks in snow
Crow tracks in snow

If you never saw any of the many poems that Crow gave me, you might enjoy our book of them called Reflection With Crow, available at this link on Amazon.

The bobcat left me a message today as well, pooping right by my Jeep so that I would remember that I’m not the only one who lives here. As you know, I often photograph scats, but I was on my way down the mountain, so Lance cleared this one away so that no one would step in it. Message received (again), bobcat.

Finally, I collected a milkweed pod, a couple of blue cohosh berries, a pale green tuft of usnea, two hickory nuts (one still in the hull) and an acorn cap—oh, and some of last year’s goldenrod—to make my little offering today.

Winter solstice offering
Winter solstice offering

Happy winter solstice (tomorrow!), friends.

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2 comments on “Solstice Earthstars, Crow, and Offerings

  1. Carole Coates

    Crows make me happy.

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