Tag Archive 'wildflowers'

May 09 2017

Profile Image of Walt

Year of the Lily

Filed under Blog Post

Green explosion. My eyes drink in the bright, light verdure suddenly appearing in the bushes and trees this time of year, and I am happy enough. Green is all I need. But there are wildflowers scattered across the forest floor as well. They seem an extravagance. Then robins and other migrating birds join resident cardinals and chickadees in a midday chorus, and it is almost too much.

I fear that I might awaken to find myself at the beginning of yet another dreary winter day. But no, all this is real, along with the rabbits and other critters that I encounter during my long walks, and the peepers that break into song at dusk. It is the middle of spring and Nature is just beginning to strut her stuff.

Wildflowers are an extravagance, indeed. Dutchman’s breeches, round-lobed hepatica, spring beauty, bloodroot, wild ginger and violets all bloom early, then comes a tidal wave of lilies. A few days ago, I came upon patch after patch of trout lilies in full bloom. Yesterday I saw white trilliums sprawled along the trail. And more lilies are on the way. In the wooded, un-lawned portion of my back yard I’ve discovered an assortment of them – bellwort along with purple and white trilliums. I am seeing wild lilies everywhere it seems. There are more of them this year than I’ve ever seen before, or is it just my imagination?

This green and flowering world is too beautiful for words. On a geological time scale, flowering plants are an anomaly. They’ve only been around for 130 million years. That’s a small fraction of the Earth’s history. Fortunately, we are here when flowers are. There’s probably a good reason for that. This green and flowering world is our world. And I for one quietly celebrate that fact each and every springtime morning.

 

 

Comments Off on Year of the Lily

Jun 26 2016

Profile Image of Walt

Daisies

Filed under Blog Post

daisiesDaisies. Such ubiquitous wildflowers. You find them in clearings in the woods, open fields, or anywhere there is ample sunlight. Summer is in full swing when they start to bloom, so is it any surprise that so many of us associate them with happiness?

There are domesticated varieties, of course. I planted some daisy mums in front of my old place years ago and they took over my garden. Pretty, yes. Dainty, no. Give them half a chance and they’ll grow just about anywhere.

The other day as I was weed-whacking the drainage ditch in my front lawn, I noticed that a patch of daisies had taken root there. I steered clear of them. I let them do their thing, adding a little floral delight to the greenery.

Like so many other wildflowers, daisies gravitate to marginal areas. The other day I found them growing near the entrance to a nearby woodlot where I like to walk. Their carousel of bright white petals is an endless smile. They strike me as nature’s welcome mat – ambient to say the least.

My wife prefers daisies to roses. My kind of gal. Roses are aromatic and elegant, no doubt, but daisies shout a different kind of beauty into the world – a beauty accessible to everyone and not easily diminished.

We are well into the growing season now and this humble wildflower is everywhere. The simple, earthy pleasures of this time of year are manifest in daisies. I’m no mindless optimist, nor do I readily engage in frivolity, but the world seems less dour to me whenever daisies are in full bloom. One look at them and my soul takes flight. Silly me.

 

Comments Off on Daisies

May 27 2016

Profile Image of Walt

The Ten-acre Wood

Filed under Blog Post

10 Acre WoodTemps reached into the 90s today – the hottest day so far this year. Ridiculously hot for May. I went for a short walk in nearby woods anyway.

After visiting the house under construction that will soon be home to Judy, my dog Matika and me, I slipped into the Ten-acre Wood. That’s the name I’ve given the woodlot less than a hundred yards from where I will most likely spend the rest of my life. Most of the woodlot will be developed someday, but for the time being it’s mine to enjoy.

I’ve been following the procession of wildflowers in the Ten-acre Wood since early spring when bloodroot and hepatica came out. Trilliums and trout lilies soon followed, then came violets, bleeding hearts, and a host of subtle bloomers. Most of those are gone now as the canopy overhead has closed. But today I found Jack hidden in the lush greenery covering the forest floor. Jack-in-the-pulpit, that is – a wildflower that is easily missed.

Jack’s an old friend of mine. We’ve had some good times together during my past springtime excursions into deep woods. It’s good to see him taking up residence close to where I’ll soon be living. Or is it the other way around?

No doubt I will make other delightful discoveries in that woodlot during the years ahead. I still plan on making lots of trips to much wilder places, but it’s nice knowing that I’ll soon be able to take a twenty-minute break from my computer and tramp this small, wild place. Sometimes a few minutes among the trees is all I need to clear my head. What a blessing to have such a place close by!

 

Comments Off on The Ten-acre Wood

May 09 2016

Profile Image of Walt

Verdure

Filed under Blog Post

verdureA cool, overcast day in early May. I head for Aldis Hill to run my dog. I tell myself that it’s all for Matika, but I need to stretch my legs as much as she does. We’ve both been indoors too long.

I meander up the trail in no rush, noting all the wildflowers in bloom along the way: purple trillium, dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, violets – the usual suspects. They are blooming right before the forest canopy leafs out. Their time to shine lasts only a few weeks.

Halfway up the hill, I spot patches of green on the forest floor – the shoots of wildflowers that have recently pushed up through the bleached, brown forest duff.  A little later, I come upon leaves unfolding from a bush next to the trail. Fresh spring verdure. No matter how much I anticipate this, it always comes as something of a surprise.

Spring beauty, hepatica and bloodroot are gone already. The spring season is so ephemeral, so easy to miss. Soon the temps will reach into the 70s and I’ll let out a dreamy vernal sigh. Then the bugs will come out. Then the verdure before me will darken to summer green. And I’ll only half notice the transformation as I go about my busy-ness. With that in mind, I take a long, hard look at the tender leaves before me right now and thank god I’m here to witness their magnificent unfolding.

 

 

Comments Off on Verdure

Apr 21 2016

Profile Image of Walt

Spring Fever

Filed under Blog Post

hepaticaThree days, three short hikes.  There’s business to be done but it’s hard staying indoors. We’re into sunny weather now with temps reaching into the 50s, 60s.  I’m taking time to stretch my legs and groove on nature’s awakening.

I hike strong and hard down the trail… because I can. The flu bug that felled me last month is long gone. I’m getting my strength back. Feels good to speed hike like a man on a mission.  My dog Matika has a hard time keeping up. She’s a little annoyed, actually. I’m cutting into her sniffing time.

The forest is leafless and brown for the most part. That’s okay. The greenery will come soon enough. It has already begun, actually. Patches of trout lily leaves and other vegetation have arisen from the forest duff already. Yeah, the great green explosion is not far away.

What’s this? Round-lobed hepatica in full bloom! Dozens of creamy white and blue flowers quake in the gentle breeze. Some are still unfurling. They haven’t been up more than a couple days. Always one of the first wildflowers to grace the forest floor, they mesmerize me. I drop down on the ground for a closer look.

Continuing along the trail, I am giddy with the prospects of the growing season ahead. Then I start plotting: When can I get into the woods for an extended hike? Breaking a sweat, I strip off my light jacket and breathe in deeply the cool air. Like me, Matika is all smiles. And why shouldn’t she be? It’s a glorious spring day and we’re in the thick of it.

 

 

Comments Off on Spring Fever

May 04 2015

Profile Image of Walt

Spring Bloom

Filed under Blog Post

trout liliesTemps skyrocket into the 70s, trees start to leaf out, and the forest floor is covered with wildflowers all of a sudden. It seems too good to be true. Then I remember that we’re in May now, thus convincing myself that this is the regular sequence of events. Nature is right on schedule.

A part of me remains skeptical, as if all this is just an illusion masking a colder, darker reality.  There now, right before me is a patch of trout lilies in full bloom. Beyond them round-lobed hepatica, Dutchman’s breeches, and trilliums. A few minutes ago, I admired the pure white flower of bloodroot, the half-hidden purplish flower of wild ginger, and blue cohosh. A few minutes later, I am snorting the sweet perfume of spring beauty. Then I roll onto my back and stare at the azure sky, blown away by the season. How many long winter days did I dream of this? It doesn’t matter. I’m here now.

The spring bloom always comes as something of a surprise no matter how much I’ve been anticipating it. I roam around the woods in quiet disbelief. A couple days ago, I went barefoot outdoors for the first time this year. Yesterday I broke a sweat walking about town in a single layer of clothes. Today a warm breeze caresses my brow, rendering me silly with simple elemental joy. Were there really snow flurries blowing around a week ago?  It doesn’t matter. I’m here now.

 

 

Comments Off on Spring Bloom

Aug 25 2014

Profile Image of Walt

Late Summer Walk

Filed under Blog Post

goldenrodA warm summer day. Not a cloud in the sky. After dinner Judy and I go for a walk on the Rail Trail. Our dog Matika is excited by the prospect, having been cooped up in the house all week. She bounds ahead as we amble along the path. Crickets, the smell of cow manure, and a low-hanging sun that sets the surrounding verdure aflame: Vermont at the end of the day in late August.

I look around for blue asters – that unmistakable indicator of the season coming to an end. I don’t see it. Instead I find Queen Anne’s lace, bladder campion, and a few other wildflowers that have filled the fields and lined pathways all summer long. Goldenrod is in its glory, of course. It’s that time of year.

When the trail enters the forest, I sense the air getting warmer. It’s more humid, actually. Both Judy’s eyeglasses and mine fog up. And the mosquitoes come out. No matter. We keep walking.

Having broken a sweat I suggest that we turn around. Judy wants to go a little farther. We go as far as the cluster of houses just beyond the wild, wooded section of the trail. That’s when I find a patch of blue asters barely discernible in the fading light. Yeah, the season is winding down.

On the way back to the car, we spot an owl flying low through the dark woods. It lets out a high-pitched screech after landing on a limb. In the semidarkness all we can see is its silhouette, yet the way that stealthy predator dips its round head is unmistakable. The owl flies off silently into the night.

We catch a sliver of bright orange light on the western horizon while finishing our walk, then relive some of the highlights of our grandkid’s visit as we drive home. It all happened so quickly.

 

 

Comments Off on Late Summer Walk

May 12 2014

Profile Image of Walt

Leaf Out

Filed under Blog Post

early spring foliageLeaves burst forth all around me as I meander along a path cutting through the woods. The forest floor is covered with trilliums, trout lilies, violets, and a host of other wildflowers. The songbirds are all singing – robins have been at it since the first glimmer of predawn light. I don’t know how long the warblers have been back, but I see them all around me now.  The natural world is coming alive and I am giddy with it.

What is this feeling overtaking me just now, like an inner glow that won’t quit?  Is this happiness?  Is it possible to be driven to joy by the mere outbreak of blue sky, balmy temps and fresh verdure? Of course it is. We are more creatures of the earth than we care to admit.  The robins are rejoicing.  Why shouldn’t we?

Matika lags behind me, backlogged in smells that she has found along the way. She is smiling. Some say that animals do not express emotion, but I know when my dog is happy. Quite often her moods are a reflection of mine. We both like to run wild for a day.

Springtime is so glorious that words cannot do it justice – especially now as everything brown suddenly turns green after such a long wait.  I grab a branch and pull an apple blossom close to my nose, inhaling deeply, intoxicated by its perfumed insinuation into the world. And to think the growing season is only beginning…  No wonder I’m so giddy.

Had I but one month to live, I would choose May, when there is nothing afoot but promise and potential, when the bee and the butterfly are just starting to go about their business, when the memory of a cold, dark winter is still fresh in my mind. And, as I sit on a knoll overlooking a drowned marsh where marigolds thrive, I can’t help but feel lucky to be alive and experiencing all this once again, one more time.

Indeed, it is too glorious for words.

 

 

 

One response so far

Apr 15 2014

Profile Image of Walt

Awakening

Filed under Blog Post

hepatica 2014With temps shooting into the 70s, I dropped everything yesterday morning and went for a hike. Niquette Bay seemed the place to go: low elevation and close to home. Still too much snow in the mountains.

The first thing that struck me when I stepped out of the car was the smell of trees, forest duff and raw earth. That’s something I’ve missed terribly.

Ah, to have a soft muddy trail underfoot again! Remnant patches of snow lay hidden in shadowy places. A blazing sun illuminated the forest. And the air was full of birdsongs – robins, chickadees, and some other bird whose name I’ve forgotten over the long, hard winter.

Not far into my hike, I heard peepers in the distance. I left the trail in search of them – woods wandering once again. I stumbled into a vernal pool where a solitary wood frog floated. He clucked away incessantly as I kept a respectful distance. Then returning to the trail, I spotted something that took my breath away: round-lobed hepatica in full bloom. Considering how the snow and ice have lingered well past the Vernal Equinox, how is that possible?

A fierce wind blew cold across Lake Champlain. Down by water’s edge, I listened to fragmented ice tinkle as it jammed against the shoreline. Back on the trail, I crossed burbling rivulets of spring run-off making their way towards the lake. The elements on the move again.

Near the crest of a hill, while tramping dreamily along the trail with my dog Matika, a mourning cloak butterfly fluttered past. From a ledge I saw snow still clinging to cold, blue mountains in the distance, making me wonder.  Then a woodpecker telegraphed a message across the forest, removing all doubt as to what time of year it is.

In shirtsleeves yet sweating, I burned off the last of an indoor funk. Hope springs eternal in wild nature, when the world suddenly awakens.

 

One response so far

Jun 17 2013

Profile Image of Walt

Enough for Now

Filed under Blog Post

lush forestYesterday Judy and I went for a walk around Aldis Hill. Our dog Matika came with us, of course. There was rain in the forecast so we wasted no time getting out of the house. We knew we wouldn’t be in the mood to go anywhere once it started.

The early morning mosquitoes were there to greet us. We did our best to ignore them, focusing upon the lush forest instead. Recent rains have brought all the vegetation to life. I can’t remember the last time the woods looked this green.

Judy skirted the mud holes; Matika went right through them. I did something in between. One’s attitude towards mud often reflects one’s beastliness. I’m not quite sure why.

Daisies and buttercups were in full bloom on the grassy top of the Hard’ack ski slope we crossed, but the wildflowers that cover the forest floor in late spring were nearly gone. With the Summer Solstice only a few days away, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. That said, I am always amazed by how quickly the warm season goes by. There’s not a day to be wasted.

Lately I’ve been too busy promoting my new book, The Allure of Deep Woods, to get into the mountains as much as I like this time of year. In lieu of deep woods, I slip away to nearby pockets of wildness whenever I can. There is something ironic about this to be sure. No matter. Aldis Hill and places like it are enough for now.

 

One response so far

Older Posts »