Spring watch

The drive from New Bedford up to Cambridge takes you through wooded swamps in the town of Freetown on the south coastal plain of Massachusetts. At this time of year the swamps are mostly gray: gray twigs, gray branches, gray tree trunks. Just now, as leaves are just starting to come out on some trees, you’ll also see colors that are almost autumnal in hue. The brilliant crimson of the last of the Red Maple flowers almost hides the gray branches in places. A nearby maple will appear dull orange from a distance, from the reddish hue of the tiny new leaves just bursting out from buds. The hanging blossoms on a birch tree are nearly yellow, with just a tinge of green. As you drive by on the highway, winter gray still dominates; the crimson, dull orange, and bright yellow hues will last for just a few days, a brief anticipation of autumn before the swamp trees turn brilliant green.