*Karma Note... A helpful reader suggested that the "marsh marigold" pictured below was actually figwort or lesser celandine, an invasive non-native species which is often confused with marsh marigold, of all things. Duly noted, and such assistance is always welcome! (JR, 4/1/2013)
Winter's chilly grasp still asserts itself each evening here in the heart of Caroline, and the morning chill reminds us that Spring has not yet sprung. But a short meander off the beaten path reveals a couple of upstarts, determined to get a head start on their early spring rivals by braving the chilly air - Spring Beauty and Marsh Marigold.
Spring beauty has many manifestations across our region, with these individuals a bit paler than many of their kin.
While these early bloomers often form impressive colonies, this tiny clump had staked its claim to a small patch of sunlight alongside a temporary stream filled by the recent heavy rains.
Not far away, at the junction with a larger creek, a pile of debris deposited in the floodplain by a larger rain event in the distant past gave shelter to a mass of bright green leaves belonging to this marsh marigold*.
These outliers were blooming even earlier than the rest of their clan; lending the otherwise lifeless marsh the green and gold hues of summer or early autumn.
This particularly bold blossom seemed determined to overshadow the discarded automobile tire inside of which she found herself contained. Faced with such a bold and valiant vanguard, can Spring herself be far behind?