Hope “Springs” Anew

by Sue Ann Kendall

I’d really hoped something good would come out of those horrible winter storms we had last month. When I read the extent of the damage, as reported by Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch, my heart sank.

The 11-day cold spell (10-20 February) in Texas was a disaster. Freezing temperatures covered the state and extended well into Northern Mexico. While many of the immediate effects of the freeze are clear, season long and multiple year effects may linger. The damage to the flora was extraordinary, and it is likely that nearly all above ground insects died over a wide area. Plants already in flower may have been so damaged as to not flower this year.

I immediately went out to look for the kinds of plants that the iNaturalist project that’s tracking the damage is looking for. It’s a work day, so I only had a half hour, but still I managed to find bees, butterflies, and some relevant plants. I’ll look for more this week and this weekend.

My husband and I had noticed a wet spot that we hadn’t seen before. It remained wet when the snow fell, which seemed odd. So, we went to check it out. It is near our arroyo, which has a number of springy areas (more this year than since we moved here) and a stream that runs into Walker’s Creek. We’ve never been able to spot the source of any of the springs other than one in our woods, which we can see coming from between two soil layers on a slope.

The spring that made this little pond is up that slope somewhere.

I have to say I made a bit of a fool of myself as I walked over there and heard bubbling sounds. I was ecstatic to find a hole about five inches wide, from which clear water was emerging, along with some bubbles. It wasn’t seeping, either, it was flowing pretty briskly. I’d finally found the source of a spring!

That shiny stuff is water!

Brief Aside

(Why was I so ecstatic, you ask? I have just loved springs my whole life. I was born and raised in north Florida, a place just chock full of springs, artesian wells, sinkholes, rivers, and lakes. The water level at my childhood home in Gainesville was so high that my dad had to be careful digging holes for trees, or he’d lose a shovel.

My happiest memories are of swimming in cold, spring-fed lakes or the springs in rivers, such as Fanning Springs, on the Suwannee River, on the way to where mom spent much of her childhood.

This photo of Fanning Springs, from Florida Spring Life, looks exactly like this spring did when I was young. You can see straight to the bottom of the spring area. In the distance is the river.

My mother’s family came from Green Cove Springs, Florida, a place that started out as a resort where people came to bathe in water from a deep, deep sulphur spring. My relatives lived right down the street from the spring (411 Spring Street!), so we often went to marvel at how deep the spring was, and to look at the little fish that lived in the short waterway that took the spring water to the St. Johns River. Once a naturalist, always a naturalist.)

Back to the Hermits’ Rest Ranch Spring

My semi-educated guess is that the reasonable amounts of rainfall for the past 2-3 years got at least three of the old springs on our property back up and running. And the water sinking in after the three winter storms, with all the ice and snow, allowed a new one to pop up. Maybe it was started in a mouse or rabbit hole, or maybe the extremely busy armadillos on our property helped.

Here you can watch it bubble, and see where the spring leads.

I get to dreaming that I can put some rocks over there and make a small dam to capture some spring water before it heads off to the stream in our arroyo. I don’t want to obstruct it, just briefly delay it.

My attempt at showing where the spring starts, where the water goes, and where it ends up.

But, who knows how long we will have a little spring to enjoy? My dogs love it, the red-wing blackbirds are playing in the wet area it’s made, and I even saw a merlin watching the meadowlarks and other birds. It’s like a buffet for that little guy!

Carlton says spring water is tasty. This is just before it falls into a depression and into the stream that goes to Walker’s Creek.
I wish I could have gotten a photo when the geese were closer! They were easily identified by their black wing tips and all the honking.

By the way, I’ve been hearing sandhill cranes all week, and some landed at Pamela’s place. And more surprisingly, a flock of snow geese flew right over me earlier in the week, honking away. I am in such awe that I forget to take pictures at such times.

Oh, and it looks like some frogs and turtles are still in our ponds, and I’ve seen signs of living crawfish (plus a dead one). Nature will persevere!

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