Monday, May 07, 2007

Early May - a day in my life

May in Pennsylvania is breathtaking. April brought all the fleeting wild flowers that most people never see (the bloodroot, the trilliums, and various other beauties of the forest floor). May is spring for "everyman". This comes earlier or later in other parts of the country, but for us it is May. The practice of hanging small cones of flowers on neighbors' doors as a child was quite a challenge. That first day of May would have but some dogwood, tulips, and forget-me-nots. Dandelions would be everywhere, of course, and violets are common enough if you had the fortitude. Bunches of violets were only for special people. We have almost an equal number of yellow violets growing here. They are a bit unusual, but more common in woodlands than lawns and gardens, I suppose. Yellow violets are also edible - like the blue and purple and white, but may be mildly cathartic. They don't seem as tasty to me, but it might be the color. I enjoy eating the "pretty" ones more.
One week later, the lilacs, lily of the valley, and many more tulips are waving their beautiful heads. The bleeding hearts are in full bloom, and some of the early perennials in the garden are seriously thinking about sending out shoots. Trees that were completely bare except for buds a couple of weeks ago, are green and lush, filled with love-crazed birds, furiously building nests.
I went walking in my favorite woods alone the other day. I don't particularly like going alone, for several reasons. #1- there is nobody there to see the amazing discoveries that one is sure to find. #2 - it has always creeped me out a bit. I worry a little about animals and as much as the silence brings a sense of timelessness, it is just not as much fun.
The first thing I noticed was that whatever animal found the wild ginger to be irresistable last year, is still of the same opinion. You can see the blooms in the picture, and if you follow the leaf stems, you'll note that a couple of the leaves are completely gone. This was a very leafy plant last week.
The creek was low, so I wandered down the middle of it for a bit. Off in the distance, there is a dead deer, and the smell hit me. Eventually, I noticed that the smell lessened as I got closer, which meant that there was something else. I hate that. It's a part of nature, and of being outside, but I have to admit that it bothers me a lot.
So this day, being alone, I decided to hike up the far side of the creek, and back out to the road along a field, to avoid running into whatever I'd missed going in.
From above, the scene looks very different. The creek and the cabin are both very distant, it appears, and the foliage and flowers are different than what grows in the thick of the shade. The climb was good too, as my "mountain goat" tendencies come out on a climb, and I enjoy finding footholds.
This week we'll head to Baton Rouge. I am very interested in seeing what natives grow there. The camera is already packed, and it will probably also be an article for the next issue of the magazine.

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