I always find that I am drawn to water. Not surprisingly then, the natural community found at Peace Valley Park, is similar to that of my phenology spot on the Winooski river. Peace Valley is a county park that features a man made reservoir, Lake Galena. Though this water body is not as fast moving as the Winooski river, meaning less sand producing erosion, the shores here are largely mud. The tree composition of the surrounding forest also differs, showcasing cedars and oaks.
The lake is man made, a river was damned to create the lake for recreation. Old fences made of stacked slate divide the landscape and several old barns and houses deeper in the woods have been left unkempt, allowing nature to reclaim them. These are echos of the lands past use as farmland. An old road runs through the park, and an old bridge completes a walking path around the lake. I have been coming here since I was a child to count turtles with my grandparents where they sit on the rocks and logs by the bridge. Canada geese and ducks are common, as well a blue heron or two. It is also unusual to visit the park without seeing a few deer.
Peace Valley has a great nature center with a bird blind, where I went and sat for a while. I’m not really a bird person but as I sat there I was thrilled to see 12 male cardinals at one time, with several females. I also saw black capped chickadees, a pari of downy woodpeckers, red winged blackbirds, a blue jay, a red bellied woodpecker, mourning doves, purple finches, and a dark eyed junco. There were also a few turkeys roaming the park. Birding proved to be more exciting than I thought.
The woody stems in the park had some buds, a few of an unknown variety appeared to be ready to sprout leaves. The only green on the forest floor was a few clumps of crab grass. The few maple trees that grow in the park were tapped and the sap was flowing, one huge old tree’s bucket was overflowing with sap. I was surprised by the parks modest sugaring operation which I learned from the ladies in the nature center is really just for demonstration. They boil the sap in a kettle over and open fire to demonstrate how local tribe used to do it, they don’t actually look to make profit off of it.