All nature is a new impression every instant.
~Henry David Thoreau
While out working in the yard yesterday I saw one of the early signs of a woodland spring, the first Falcate Orangetip butterfly. These dainty white butterflies flit through the woods for only a few weeks each year searching for mates and plants in the mustard family on which to lay their eggs. But it was almost two weeks ago I saw my first butterfly of the season. A Mourning Cloak danced silently through the naked trees and landed on a maple to feed on sap. It was late in the afternoon, one day after a brief snow. The birds were still crowding at the feeders, leaving thoughts of a new nesting season behind after yet another cold spell. And yet, here was a butterfly, probably one that had spent the winter huddling in darkness under some loose tree bark or even under a fallen log. Two days later, I added two more species to the early spring butterfly count – an Eastern Comma and a Question Mark. Both of these species, like the Mourning Cloak, are among the few that spend the winters here in NC as adults. They are often seen darting through the woods on warm days in late winter, searching for sustenance amongst the bare trees. This winter has been a cold one and the inaugural butterflies have been slow to awaken. But now, their silent wings are beating, carrying the warm days of spring a little closer.