February 6, 2013 —
The month of January saw mostly cold temperatures through to the last few days of the month, when unseasonably mild weather arrived. During the cold weeks, snow covered the ground and it got cold enough to freeze over lakes and much of the Delaware River. Much time was spent checking out bobcat and coyote tracks in the snow, or observing frozen waterfalls and seeps from rock outcrops. Not much thought was given to plant life, but that changed during one hike when I visited a few of these places where water flows.
Flowing water is always at or above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter how cold the air temperature is, and for plants in or near flowing water, this can be an advantage. If the source of this water is a nearby underground spring, that can be even more advantageous for plants; ground water can be several degrees above freezing. Hardier vegetation may be observed in or near streams or rock seeps.
On the next trip to a frozen waterfall or winter stream side, check for some of this greenery; it will likely be more than the well-known mountain laurel or rhododendron plants that are adding color to the winter landscape.