Saturday, May 1, 2010
May Day on the River
The first of May. Sweet May. Mary's month, and the month when all mothers are honored. The month of my birth and the month when I first became a mother myself. The month when Mother Nature wears her prettiest dress and adorns herself with the loveliest flowers. I just love May. So to celebrate I went to the river, so warm and peaceful and calm today, with the banks all abloom with one beauty after another.
The legend has it that blue is Mary's color, so I fantasize that these Bluets are turning their azure faces to heaven to honor the mother of God. They certainly seem to spread the color of the heavens across the grass.
And beautiful Starflower does the same for the stars, spreading a firmament across the forest floor. Masses of them were blooming in the woods along the water.
Fringed Polygala: what a funny name. Almost as funny as the flowers are pretty, so vividly pink and curious of shape, like tiny single-engine airplanes with propellors all a-spin.
Here comes one flying right at you.
Paddling along a steep rocky bank, I passed right under this Round-leaved Gooseberry shrub, its long-stamened blossoms dangling in front of my nose. How I wish I could find their fruit so easily, but the critters steal it away long before it's ripe enough for my taste.
Scurrying across the face of that rocky bank, this fishing spider came to a halt as I drew near. How nice of him to hold still while I took his picture. Actually, it might be a her. The light was not right to check out the pedipalps. Males have swollen ones, like tiny boxing gloves, while females' pedipalps just look like a pair of feelers.
Moving into a marsh, I encountered branches of Sweet Gale ablaze, their ruby pistillate blossoms lit up like fire, with the sun shining through them.
The marsh was also full of unfurling ferns, some fuzzy pale green, some shiny dark red, some a soft pale orange. I can't identify ferns until they're full-grown and raising spore stalks, but I sure wish I knew this one's name. That skinny green hand clutching that wad of green pebbly stuff could be the spore stalk of Cinnamon Fern, but I'm not sure.
This tree bud has not yet unfurled, but it's easy to guess that it's hickory. Such big fat buds, the color of apricot satin, no other buds look like them.
I found two different white violets today, which, at first glance, looked the same. But a closer look revealed their distinctions. These Lance-leaved Violets grow close to the water and don't seem to mind if they get their feet wet. What distinguishes them, along with their damp habitat, is that their leaves are shaped like lances, long and skinny, and grow directly from the base of the plant, instead of off the flower stem.
On the other hand, these Cream Violets share their flower stem with their heart-shaped leaves.
I found these Cream Violets on my way home, when I stopped at the Yaddo shade garden. My photo doesn't really show the luscious cream-color they are, nor does it reveal the diagnostic stipules that sheath the leaf and flower stem, which in this species are long and sharply pointed.