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Wallerin' in Bluebells

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I hunkered down to fully appreciate the bluebells; I waded up into them as best I could, without stepping on them. The eye looks for anomalies, and I found plenty; some that were fully pink, a luscious contrast to the masses of sky-blue blooms. The mutation seemed to travel in patches, making me wonder if bluebells spread vegetatively, underground. I’m thinking they do, and that these pink sports are genetic copies vegetatively propagated under ground, rather than seed-generated.  

Pink is wonderful, but it's hard to beat the wild type blue. Here, highlighted against the artwork of a pileated woodpecker, I made a souvenir of the day.

Finally I came upon a sign, and smiled to see The Athens Conservancy had had a hand in asking American Electric Power to help them make a preserve of this magical place: 64 acres of diversity and beauty. I spoke to The Athens Conservancy this past winter, and a warmer, lovelier, more dedicated group would be hard to find. It was good to be here where wild 
things are safe; where the heartbreak of finding them devastated or gone on one’s next visit is held off by a pact. There are few such pacts in my part of Ohio. 

I watched people making the pilgrimage to this place, two women laughing as one kept wading in for photos. I spoke with several people, and all were happy to be here, too. There is no way to put a value on a place like this, on knowing it’s there to be resorted to, to be shared with those who may never have waded in bluebells.

 As I turned back toward my car, the light finally fading, I heard a man singing to the ringing tones of a twelve-string. He was good, too. He wasn’t playing “Wildwood Flower,” my father’s favorite to pick (one of only two he knew), but he might as well have been. Imagine living amidst drifts of bluebells! Oh!

These folks were making the pilgrimage. I knew, but I asked anyway. Yep, they were good for the mile-plus walk to see these plants putting on their best show. And the dog, to my surprise, wasn't one of the oh-so-popular designeroodle mixes--she was an undiluted standard poodle, apricot, and she was lovely.

This outfit would stop my Costa Rican co-leader Mario Cordoba's heart, should someone wear it on one of our birdwatching hikes. Big birding no-no, those flourescent colors. Good, I suppose, if you're working or running along busy roads.  Otherwise, leave it in the drawer, or get used to watching birds flying away from your screamin' neon shirt.

A funny perspective on a bull, looking uphill.

  And his ladies.

This place has so much, and it's so easy to access. I highly recommend it. Mark your calendar for next April 10, and maybe I'll see you there. If you get on the bike trail between Athens and Nelsonville at Hamley Run Road near Chauncey Ohio, and head west toward Nelsonville, you'll find it.

You'll know when you're there. :)

The titmice will be peter petering. 

The bluebells will be tripping over blue-eyed Mary on their way down the hill, going pink with embarrassment.

When I finally made it to the parking area, the sun was setting, striking the plump flanks of a muddy-billed robin. I thought about all the things I’d seen on this blessed day, things common and rare, and I felt very lucky to be able to go seek them out, to know where to go and to be able to take the time to do it. 

I believe spring ephemerals should be treasured and sought out; that we should all grab a day somewhere in mid-April, or whenever they’re blooming, and pay tribute to this show that, whether we know about it or not, is going on under the budding trees, in the rich humus of moist forests. Giving thanks for these things, going out of our way to find and appreciate them, is part and parcel of being alive and aware on Planet Earth. 

 Do click on this one! It looks like nothing until you do.

Imagine--that sea of leaves around the lone bluebell clump is all wild geranium (cranesbill). Not a noxious exotic. Native. It'd be in bloom right now. World enough and time to go back and see it, that's what I lack.

Blue-eyed Mary says "See ya next year!"

And a white trout lily Erythronium albidum, rare and wonderful, waves me goodbye as the sun sinks low.



OK, Julie, I'm more confused than ever now about clothing and birding.
I'd heard before that one should avoid bright colors while birdwatching (which, since I like bright colors and am not a serious birder, has never kept me from wearing whatever I wanted). However, in a "This Birding Life" podcast from late last year, Bill posed the clothing question to two experts from Rockjumper Birding Tours. As I recall their responses, they both said that what one wore didn't much seem to matter; rather, it was a birder's movements that were the main issue.
I do remember one wonderful walk in the cloud forest of Costa Rica when drab clothes were definitely the wrong choice. The most fortunate members of our group were those wearing bright red - all the hummingbirds came to check them out!

So beautiful, I was tearing up! Thank you for sharing your walk with us. I felt as if I were there.

Posted by Anonymous May 7, 2017 at 12:53 PM

Hi Hamada,

What you wear when birding depends on whether you want birds to notice you and change their behavior (including fleeing) because of you, or whether you wish to blend in and watch them doing what they'd do normally. If you're bent on trying to attract hummingbirds, dress drably and put a red silk flower on your hat. I and most professional guides I've worked with are of the strong opinion that bright colored clothing is bad news in the forest and in a safari vehicle. It's considered courteous, when in a group, to dress in drab colors, speak very softly or not at all, and refrain from pointing and shouting. Wearing neon colors in the woods is like shouting in color, in my opinion.

I hiked with friends at a nearby state park weekend before last, and tried to take photos of every wildflower I saw (some, unfortunately, came out blurry). After your post I thought of them for the first time as "spring ephemerals;" such a beautiful phrase!

Glorious walk in beautiful colors and shapes; thank you for sharing. The trio walking - woman, dog, man - caught my eye as all three are in step with left foot raised. Made me smile. Kim in PA

Thank you, Julie, for this lovely post. Here's to spring!

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