Monday, April 27, 2009

maybe Spring's not so bad after all . . .

I’m beginning to like Spring! It’s taken me a long time. In the past, Spring has been somewhat of a downer for me—I love to cross country ski and Spring brings the end of my cross country skiing for another year. I used to think I was alone in my somewhat melancholic turn each March-April, but in talking with other skiers, I discovered others too experienced a big letdown when the snow started melting away. But . . . I am learning to appreciate, dare I say even like Spring! It has everything to do with getting out and observing nature.

Saturday morning Howie and I joined naturalists Lori Kinsey and Mike Cline on a Tin Mountain Conservation Center program. It was a walk to see Ephemeral Wildflowers—the earliest and fleeting blooming of certain wildflower species in our area. We explored the forested bowl below Humphrey’s Ledge off of Westside Road in Bartlett. Not two minutes into the walk, Lori pointed out a collection of trout lilies in bloom. I recognized their mottled green and brown leaves, which give the plant its name, but hadn’t really ever focused on its flower. Lori talked about its pollination strategy. Mike filled in with information about the soil in general in the area. Further into the woods we trooped and came upon our next point of interest: Dutchman’s Breeches. The delicate little white flowers hang in a group from their stem, looking like little pantaloons hung out to dry. We saw a whole collection of these on top of a boulder at the far point of our walk, thanks to Lori’s pre-program explorations. The woods were bursting with surprises to find, more wildflowers that included squirrel corn, trillium, hepatica, violets, spring beauty and bellwort. Some of the group spotted a wild turkey before it dashed away. The protected shelf below the shelter of a rock revealed porcupine quills. Howie and I discovered several gelatinous egg masses floating in the vernal pool. Mike said they were either frog or salamander eggs.

It was a wonderful morning. I delighted in the discoveries that nature revealed as I opened my eyes, ears and finally my mind to the glory Spring was providing.

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