The water starts falling in earnest a few hours before sunset, and by the time we reach the North Carolina line, we are pretty sure we've seen the last we're going to see of the sun for the remainder of this trip.
With the forest-filtered raindrops adding another layer of color and texture to the already-mottled greens of these sessile trillium leaves, we decide a rainy morning in the mountain wilds may not be such a bad thing after all.
We set out early with spring wildflowers on our minds, and in the mingled mists of water falling from the heights and even higher, we discover an oasis of spring centered on the pool at Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit presides as every living thing is baptized in the cool, cleansing waters of the cascade and of the clouds.
Standing on the nearby slope, lily white heads bowed against the drizzle, wood anemones hold vigil, singly here, a small gathering there, attending the peaceful scene with humility and grace.
Robin's plantain by the dozens line the path, like so many golden lamplights, their purple rays penetrating the mist.
First one leaf-strewn slope and then another reveal mysterious green clad throngs, fed by yesterday's sunlight, watered today by heaven, lush and striking in their not-yet-blooming, leaving the traveler wondering, but not disappointed.
Sweet white violets, with their scarlet stems, lend their voices to the song of life that is an Appalachian spring;
as their dainty yellow brethren, with halberd leaves of freshest green, emerge nearby to join the chorus.
Erect trillium, trifoliate stalwart of stream side and mountain cove, bobs ever so slightly beneath the large, cold drops of life-giving rain, delicate pink petals conspicuous among its pallid companions.
Glowing golden faces, surrounded by golden rays, bearing sunlight in the midst of a steady rain, golden ragwort perhaps, a golden spring aster, months ahead of its late summer kin.
Showy orchis, star of many a wildflower show, energized by the brisk spring shower, moves imperceptibly closer to center stage;
while foam flower flaunts its shaggy mane, drenched as it is with mountain dew.
And a single, solitary spark of life, not quite emerald green, subtended and nourished by the silent, sodden masses of Octobers past and today's replenishing moisture, disrupts the brown monotony of the forest floor.
Trillium dances with delight,
fern fronds unfurl,
and some, like the mayapple, appear to covet the water more, twin leaves catching and holding every precious drop, trusting not in next week's weather.
Others seemingly shed each drop but the last, enshrouded in oilcloth against the incessant montane showers.
Falling water lands; trickles down; percolates around thirsty roots;
gives shape and structure to new green leaves;
turgor and tension trumping for now the relentless weight of the mountain air,
new flower unfolds, a new seed is set,
a new generation assured by the drops of falling water.