Wednesday, March 18, 2009
A soft, warm day with intermittent sun and showers: perfect for misty conditions on the river. I call this island Woodcock Island because I've flushed a woodcock here several times. It's a favorite spot for a picnic and swim, and in May it's ablaze with sweet-scented mountain azalea. Trailing arbutus grows here, too, and so do cardinal flower and narrow-leaved gentian. It's simply a beautiful spot whatever the season. Including today.
Today, the easiest way through the woods was to walk along (or in) the beds of streams. My boots got a little muddy but it spared my shins from being skinned on the crusty snow when my feet punched through. I found lots more green stuff newly freed from the weight of winter snow: Christmas fern, wood fern, yellow-flowered grass, common speedwell, partridge berry, horsetail rush, lycopodia, liverwort. (Which I like to call "lizardwort." Doesn't this photo look sort of like a pile of writhing lizards?)
And here it is, folks, the first flower of spring: skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). The spathe has opened, the spadix inside is dotted with puffs of pollen. I opened one up for a closer look and spilled what looked like yellow flour all over my front. With this plant in bloom I can now start a brand new notebook for the year: Wildflowers 2009.