Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Now, THAT's More Like It!

Hurray!  It felt like SPRING today!  And if forecasts can be believed, it's going to be warm and sunny for a whole string of days to come. It was certainly a lovely blue-sky day today for a walk around the back bay of Moreau Lake, where I was happy to greet a number of the season's new arrivals.

Well, we can't really call the Spotted Newts new arrivals, since I can spot them under the ice all winter.  But their gathering in sandy shallows to bask in the sun seems like a spring thing to do, and they sure were out in force today.

Oh my gosh, they sure WERE in a springtime state of mind! Love is in the air!  (Or in this case, in the water!)

There was fragrance in the air as well, with the first few blooms of Trailing Arbutus starting to open, white flowers in one patch, pretty pink in another.

The Red Maples, too, had opened their vivid blooms.  This is a cluster of staminate blooms.  The pistillate blooms were opening, too, but on separate trees, with boughs too high for me to reach.

Okay, now I know for sure that it really, truly is spring.  Ta Da!   The Draba verna is blooming.

Why should I wax ecstatic over finding this wee little weed?  Well, let me quote the noted naturalist Aldo Leopold, who wrote the most wonderful tribute to this most minimal of spring flowers.
Within a few weeks now Draba, the smallest flower that blows, will sprinkle every sandy place with small blooms. He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba. He who despairs of spring with downcast eye steps on it, unknowing. He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance.

Draba asks, and gets but scant allowance of warmth and comfort; it subsists on the leavings of unwanted time and space. Botany books give it two or three lines, but never a plate or portrait. Sand too poor and sun too weak for bigger better blooms are good enough for Draba. After all, it is no spring flower, but only a postscript to a hope.

Draba plucks no heartstrings. Its perfume, if there is any, is lost in the gusty winds. Its color is plain white. Its leaves wear a sensible woolly coat. Nothing eats it; it is too small. No poets sing of it. Some botanist once gave it a Latin name, and then forgot it. Altogether it is of no importance -- just a small creature that does a small job quickly and well.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949


Sara Rall said...

Draba verna might be my favorite spring flower, just because it's about the earliest and so, so cute!

The Furry Gnome said...

I think I first read those words of Leopold's 47 years ago! He had a way of making things memorable! Finally got some spring weather here too.

threecollie said...

I can still remember finding Sand County Almanac in the college bookstore when I went wandering there....something to read with your heart and never forget. Actually I still have that little paperback somewhere upstairs. Thanks for the reminder and the lovely photos. I love newts!

Wayne said...

Thank you for inspirational images, and for the reminder of the wisdom of Aldo Leopold. My freshman botany professor's lectures included readings from A Sand County Almanac every month. Of course, it became a sacred book for all his student's. (I need only lift my eyes to see it on my bookshelf now, next to Walden.) Leopold's words are as relevant today as ever, and perhaps even more important today, when the importance of addressing climate change incredibly is still being debated by presidential candidates. In 1949 Leopold wrote:
“Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

So that's what that flower is called. Love reading your blog
Its quite a learning experience. Thank you!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, friends, for your wonderful comments. Seems like together we make up an admiration society for both Draba verna and Aldo Leopold. I am especially grateful, Wayne, for the Leopold comment on ecological damage and its relevance to today's political situation.