Today is a sunny and (relatively) warm day, so I returned to the ditch to see what I could see. Turns out: most of the same stuff I saw before. But this time with sunshine and blue skies.
Lovely sumac fruit
This is the branch of a staghorn sumac, and as you can probably guess, the plant is so named because the branch looks like a deer's antler.
This is strange --there's a plant all over the ditch that has these round swellings midway up the stem. I'm not sure if it's a normal feature or a symptom of some kind of disease or what.
Above the little black growth on the underside of this branch, you see a half moon-shaped scar where a leaf used to be attached. All the little black dots inside of that are bundle scars, which show how the the leaf's vascular tissue (the conductive tissue that transports water and nutrients) were arranged. This is a good characteristic to help identify trees in the winter. That said, I didn't try to ID this tree (lazy). Other features of note: the periodic vertical lines between the leaf scars are bud scale scars, indicating the end of a previous year's growth. And the little bumps scattered along the stem are lenticels, openings into the inner tissue of the branch that permit gas exchange.
More lenticels, more bud scale scars.
One of many uncooperative little fruits that just didn't want their picture taken. It kind of looks like a rose hip, but I don't think there are any roses down in the ditch.