Sunday, April 17, 2011
It felt more like March than April today, with a cold wind blowing away the sun's warmth -- what there was of it, with clouds tearing across the sky. I decided to seek the shelter of woods for my daily walk and drove to the Ballston Creek Preserve, about ten miles south of Saratoga. I made sure to wear my muck boots, since the trails there can be not just muddy, but positively swampy.
Wow! What a difference just ten miles south can make, regarding the progress of spring. The snow was gone here weeks before it left the woods in Saratoga. Just two days ago I searched and searched in the Skidmore woods and found just a few signs of Trout Lily. But at Ballston Creek, the forest floor was carpeted with this flower's speckled leaves. No blossoms yet, however.
But there sure were a lot of Spring Beauties! Hundreds of them! Thousands! I've never seen such an abundance of this dainty pink bloom as I find each year in this Ballston Creek woods. I noticed a few tightly closed buds along the Bog Meadow Trail yesterday, but today in this woods, the wide-open blossoms were scattered among the dry leaves like stars across the sky.
I noticed, though, that this little bunch of Spring Beauties was looking none too healthy, with shriveled brown buds and a leaf infected with some kind of orange pox.
Here's a closer look at that pox, probably some kind of fungus attacking the leaf in a most spectacular way. Happily, I didn't find any other plant patches similarly infested.
Walking back to my car, I was startled to find a patch of Bloodroot blooming in a roadside ditch. Is any flower more pristine in its whiteness? Or sunnier in its aspect? What a treat to find it on a chilly day that felt like spring was moving backwards.
And look what other treat I found today, in another roadside ditch: Ramps! This wild variety of onion is delicious chopped up, leaves and all, and sauteed in a little butter. But just to look at their pretty shapes and colors is a treat all by itself.