Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spring, surprising

pawpaw blossoms
I went out looking for jack-in-the-pulpit this morning in a patch of woods where I saw it a few years ago. Okay, maybe more than a few. Frankly, I don't remember how long it's been since I saw jack-in-the-pulpit growing in our woods, but I still go out there around this time every spring hoping to see it, and the trip is never wasted, even if I don't find what I'm looking for.

This morning I saw mayapples just beginning to poke out of the ground and unfurl their little green umbrellas. I saw tiny forests of stonecrop cropping up along the cliff face, delicate green fronds of solomon's seal dangling tiny buds beneath the stems, and more trilliums and trout lilies and bloodroot (done blooming) than I could have imagined.

Trees are blooming too, the maples and redbud putting on a show while velvety red-brown pawpaw blossoms hide inconspicuously along bare branches. And back there on the slope where the pawpaws grow, where I went in vain to look for jack-in-the-pulpit, I saw something I've never seen before: tiny twinleaf buds just barely emerged from the ground.

Later in the season, after the delicate white flowers have faded, the twinleaf will grow tall and spread showy leaves in clumps along that slope, where they're easy to see from the driveway. Now, though, they're barely visible unless you're right on top of 'em, tiny purply twin leaves folded tight alongside an insignificant white bud. If I go back tomorrow or Monday, I may see a blossom, but I'd better not delay too long because they don't last.

I saw poison ivy too, the first of the season, and garlic mustard and a well-hidden critter hole that tripped me up and nearly sent me sprawling down the hill. Spring is a double-edge sword, bringing threat alongside the beauty. This time it didn't bring me jack-in-the-pulpit, but there's still time to hope and search and stumble. And if I don't find what I'm looking for, I know I'll find something worth finding.

mayapple unfurling


twinleaf bud



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