Posts tagged wild flowers

The Ephermals of an Appalachian Forest in Spring

As a teen, I often wandered in the forest and grassland of my grandparents pasture. The sight of the ephemeral flowers of spring always brought me great joy. It seems one dy, in late February, I would notice a tiny Spring beauty growing below the deciduous tress deep in the woods. Then there wold be another and another. I would round a curve on an old logging road and discover a bank filled with Bloodroot. I felt as though I had found a treasure, as all ephemeral rise up, bloom and disappear within a few weeks, before the leaves are much more that a pale green bud.

There are “arguments” among locals as to which wild flowers of early spring really qualify as ephemeral-meaning flowers that appear, bloom, fertilized each other (sometimes themselves) and disappear within a very short time. I never really cared. I knew which ones fit that category in “My woods” and that was all that mattered. After the first flowers had begun to disappear, others wold take their place. There were Clinton Lily’s. Pink Orchids, common violets, Pipsisewa, May Aapple and many more as spring progressed towards May. Between mid-April and mid-May, the forest was covered with these small shy flowers. I found them to be fascia ting, often getting down on my knees to explore each leaf and bud.

I always enjoyed the sounds of busy squirrels and chipmunks, I loved the way that the sound of the creek became louder as I got closer to a small pond that someone had long ago built for cattle drink from. Occasionally, sight of a foot-long ground snake, would surprise me. We would stare at each other, her head held high,and then she would slowly crawl off into the brown leaves still littering the ground. It was always exciting to pick up a stone and find a resting lizard, remaining still underneath. I often had to put the rock back down right beside the creature for fear of crushing it.

I was raised in the woods. My mother, aunt and grandmother would go on walks with me. We knew where natural springs flowed from depths of the earth, with water as fresh as a spring shower. We would lift rocks with a hoe from the creek where the cattle drank and catch crawfish (who, of course shoot backward when disturbed and were easy to catch.) DON”T argue, crawfish is what we called them! Salamanders would hide in the s shallower areas near the edge or the water plants swishing near the edge of the creeks.

By mid June, blackberries were starting to ripen, and the chiggers that lived on and around them were waiting for a dog, person, any creature that spelled “food” to walk by. When I was 12 years old, my parents made me go pick blackberries and I got 103 chiggers bites. I swore that I would never go again, and I didn’t, until I was a young adult and had to decide on my own whether the seedy berries were worth the briars and chiggers.

The fields are gone now, either grown up or a mansion has sprung  up in the middle of a big “lot”. It should have never happened. It breaks my heart that only my mom cared enough to want to save it and she was out-voted.

Times have changed over the decades. The big houses have chased the bears, wild turkeys, coyotes, even bobcats down into the valleys. There, they have found easy meals from scraps and trash cans. My grand kids will never see the world I knew. I take them to the Botanical Gardens at the University or the Bird Sanctuary at the man-made lake.

There, they can see mallards and red-headed ducks, turtles resting on logs, frogs jumping into the slim-filled swampy areas, birds of all kinds. That is as good as it gets near my home any more. I have always hoped to one day convince an old farmer that what I could offer him to save his land was worth more to his descendants than the crowds of houses the developer wanted to build, smiling and offering him an exorbitant price to destroy his land. I have about given up hope, it seems the green on money means more to even the old farmers than the lush, lovely green of trees.

Perhaps someone with more money than I have will come along, or some old timer with a mind that loves nature like I do, will donate his land to a nature conservancy. In the meantime, I will go to the edges of the woods , when it has just started to sprinkle rain and the fragrance of soil and plants fills my senses and remember what this place was like before the leaders of surrounding towns turned paradise into pitiful.. The Singing Group called the Eagles wrote a song when I was a teenager that said, “Call a place a paradise, and kiss it goodby.” How sad, how true. But I have my memories. Please take time  listen to the song that plays on this blog.

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The First Flowers of Spring

07500015I listen for the sound of my grandson’s school bus, walking around his yard as I wait. It is late March, with the crazy hot-then cold mountain weather. I’m looking for springs first flowers, not to magical ephemeral Clinton’s Lilies or Blood Root that grew on the mountainsides on my childhood, now ruined by the mansions of the rich, nor the spring beauties that clustered near the old bath tub where cattle once drank.- Just simple wild flowers that give me the hope of spring.

I spy a few spikes of tiny white flowers, remembering how they shoot out their seeds when their life cycle finishes early in the summer. Daffodils grow in odd places where farms flourished early in thee century, tiny bluet sprinkle the places that grass will soon overtake.

How wonderful the dandelions look in March, when we will be fussing at them by June. The last of the crocuses are dying, Muscari, the tiny cousins of hyacinths pop up among the tufts of green. I smile, with hope, as I hear the bus coming. Spring WILL be here soon and there will be a lot of work to do!

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Resilience or Persistence?

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Day 4 after I cut down the morning Glories and piled the, by the road.

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Day 6 after I cut down the Morning Glories and plied them by the road

The definition of resilience is the ability to recover or adjust easily. This is the first word that came to mind when I saw morning glories blooming hopefully in purples and magentas on vines I had pulled from my sons bank a week ago. I admit, I felt a bit guilty  about having to pull them, they were pretty, but they were winding around the other flowers and turning the yard into a jungle. I did leave the ones that weren’t in the way.

The days have been cool here in the mountains and the infamous August dew and fog had given the vines moisture even as they were piled on the ground, with their stems no longer rooted. I have watched the flower vines everyday as I waited on my son’s bus.  They were piled by the curb, several feet high, and blooming desperately as if determined to make next years seeds in spite of my interference.

When I looked up the definition of resilience, I felt it was more applicable to some of the people I have known who have so valiantly fought disease or disability, than to the flowers, because they could not recover or adjust in any long-term way. They were simply doing what nature programmed them to do-reproduce, so that next year, there would again, be banks overgrown with tangled vines of beautiful wild flowers.

I then thought of the word, perseverance, and in my dictionary , it was simply defined as “to persist”. Somehow, that word seemed more applicable to the struggle of the flowers to make seeds before the sun and lack of moisture did them in. As a person who both loves and respects nature and its ways. I felt rather small in my tendency to let life’s, struggles defeat me when a wildflower, plucked from the ground could continue to nourish its blooms in spite of all odds.

I believe that the memory of the perseverance of the morning glories will stick with me the next time one of life’s little obstacles gets in my way.

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