If it weren’t for fungi, dead trees might not decompose and nutrients would be locked up, unavailable for other plants and animals to use. You can easily find (and make art with) wood-rotting bracket fungi even in winter.
American beech is actually easier to identify in winter than in summer, even at 60 mph, because it holds onto its dead leaves all winter. The reason? The ancestors of beeches evolved in the tropics where plants photosynthesize year-round. Beeches just happened to keep a tight grip on their leaves when they moved north.
You can find lycopods (aka clubmosses) growing on the ground in most northeastern forests. They are the only living descendants of ancient lineage of towering trees. And they have a special talent: their oily spores are amazingly flammable, perfect for DIY holiday fireworks!
Most mammals are only active after dark, so it’s harder to get to know them than, say, birds, which are active and conspicuous during the day. But you can figure out how mammals like white-tailed deer spend their time by noticing subtle signs of their behavior.
Have you ever taken a close look at mosses? They’re simply elegant, and you can find them almost anywhere. They’re not that hard to tell apart especially with Ralph Pope’s moss field guide, so why not get to know them?