Pollen days are here again, and with them, Spring.
For nearly two weeks now, the Carolina pines have filled the air with their minuscule grains of golden powder, cloaking much of the state in a thick yellow haze, and coating every exposed surface with a dusting of sulphur yellow.
Mercifully, however, the spring rains have come in abundance as well, clearing the air for a spell with each passing shower, and rinsing leaf and blossom clean in advance of tomorrow's fresh coat of pollen.
Along with the pollen come other familiar portents of the Southern spring, and our hearts thrill at the sight of them...
Known variously as wild azalea, pinxter flower or pinxter azalea, this lovely native rhododendron brightens many a woodland nook around our area in the early days of April.
Between showers, male northern cardinal's persistent "Purdy! Purdy! Purdy!" rings from his treetop perch; one voice in a chorus of avian song that accompanies the year's
first wave of nesting and egg-laying.
And down below, where woodland yields to meadow, clumps of rain- and sun-kissed bluets elicit a smile from every passerby.
Even the humble drainage ditch has its part to play in the springtime drama;
nursery for amphibian and arthropod alike,
as green frog basks amidst a gyrating swarm of mosquito larvae.
All the most appealing sights and scents of spring are met in the sweet shrub or spicebush, whose luscious peachy perfume drenches the woodland margins more thoroughly than the afternoon shower just ended.
The iridescent emerald hues of the six-spotted tiger beetle foreshadow the impending miraculous appearance of millions of fresh green leaves in the canopy overhead...
as the epicure's elusive and enchanting morel mushroom makes
its annual April appearance in the shadows and decay of the forest floor.
The pollen is here,
bringing with it
and the joy...