Friday, April 3, 2015

A Walk in the Woods...

A couple of years ago, right around this time of year, we went for a wonderful walk in the woods among the wildlife and early spring wildflowers along Island Creek in eastern North Carolina, where we encountered hundreds of emerging bloodroot blossoms.

 And although the first of April this year found us hanging out a little closer to home, we ventured over to our own San-Lee Park in hopes that the similar habitat along the upper reaches of the lake might harbor some of the same lovely blooms. 
We were not disappointed!

 Spring had arrived in the woods and on the waters, as these basking sliders took advantage of the same blue skies and sunshine we walkers found so invigorating.

Not only was the bloodroot beginning to blossom, 
but the rue anemone erupted from the drab browns and grays of the forest floor in an eye-catching display of delicate pink and brilliant ivory hues.

The birds wanted in on the action as well, with this red-bellied woodpecker drawing our eyes skyward to discern the source of its drumming.

Back among the drab brown leaves, hepatica, or liverwort, lent its lovely lavender to the chorus of delicate spring color, rising on a distinctively hairy stalk from the nutrient-rich soil of the lakeside forest.

More anemones beckoned brightly from just around the bend, as our steps brought us ever closer to the headwaters of the lake.

And there we were greeted by the perfect white flowers of the bloodroot and a perplexing arrangement of petals -
some sporting nine, others eleven, still others with eight and some more than a dozen; 

a nice number-y mystery for unraveling tonight with field guide in hand.

Back overhead, bold pink buds contrasted starkly with the infinite blue, as our ubiquitous redbud trees began their stunning April show here along the margin of the piedmont and coastal plain of North Carolina.

 Eyes transitioned rapidly from the players on the stage at our feet,

and back to those above...

almost missing the true identity of this branch's leaf-like accoutrement in our determination not to trample the loveliness of the earthbound blossoms below.

Fortunately for us, the walkers in the wood, 

a brief upward glance chanced to spy the "leaf" with wings outspread, 
minute scales of orange and white reflecting the sun's rays to our eyes 
like tiny panels of stained glass,

 otherwise this natural beauty would have passed us by like a leaf on the wind.

And while we were thus distracted from the spring wildflower show, 
a mammalian companion smiled a mid-meal greeting from its sunny perch in the oaks. 

With the day well on, and a busy calendar calling, the walkers reluctantly turned toward home, 
startling an emerald-crowned wanderer from its gentle cruising across the crystal clear surface of the lake in the woods.

Henry David Thoreau, one of America's favorite naturalists, once noted, 

"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."

We couldn't agree more...

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