This morning when we went on our walk, we saw all sorts of signs that this has been an unusually warm winter thus far. First, we saw a cherry trying to bloom! Sometimes they do that around Christmas, and it's a sure sign that the weather has been warmer than normal. Beneath it is a hawthorne, I think, which is also full of buds and opening blooms. (Note the grey skies in the background; that is definitely our normal January sky.)
Here's a close up of the cherry. In the spring when all the cherries are in full bloom, walking through our neighborhood is a real pleasure. (Note the lichens on the branches! They're an indication as to how moist our climate really is.)
But here's the real reason we made a second loop on our walk; the witch hazel is blooming like it always does at this time of year. This bush always reminds me of my mom because she used witch hazel astringent to clean her face, and the first time I saw this bush in bloom, the odor is what helped me identify it. The flowers do look like they should be little witch wigs, don't they? When the sun shines, these flowers are really fragrant and so reminiscent of Mom.