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Into the Woods We Go

Saturday, March 28, 2020

When the sun came out on March 22, we knew what we had to do. We had to go look for hepatica. 
I have a couple of places. One, I found just last spring. It rocks so hard, and it's about 7 minutes from my house. 
I called Shila and told her to come out. We'd take our own cars and stay a ways apart, but we'd get to experience the woods together. 

First thing Liam found was some good coon prints. OK, so they're out and about. Batten down the bird feeders. 

Impudent hickory (or buckeye) buds were everywhere.

So was hepatica. It likes cold, north-facing slopes, so it wasn't getting much sun at all, and we had trouble finding any that were open. But I love this shot, with the golden sun and PawPaw Creek shining green behind the nodding flowers. They come in white, pale pink, pale lilac, and deep blue. All the same species (round-lobed hepatica).  My hepatica Grail is a deep blue individual. I think it's a bit early to find one. I will be back, and I will find one.

I saw a little bunch of likely looking leaves high up the slope and started climbing (well, crawling) toward it. 

There were wee buds on it. I couldn't decide if they were going to be Dutchman's britches or squirrel corn.

I got a nice slice of blue sky and more rocky slope in this shot. 

And then I climbed higher yet, where I found one--ONE!! gorgeous specimen of Dutchman's britches in full, unequivocal bloom. The leaves were identical, and the yellow cast on the buds confirmed the ID. It is devilishly hard to photograph these little ephemerals, because the camera wants to focus on everything BUT the blossom. 

Unbeknownst to me, Shila grabbed this shot with her 400 mm telephoto (because we were maintaining quite a respectful distance between each other).

I am grimacing because it's HARD to keep yourself more or less upright on a 45 degree slope with an 8 pound camera hanging off you, and slippery mud and exactly the WRONG boots with no tread because you thought it would be really muddy, and you can't see jack on your phone display because the sun is so bright, so you just grit your teeth and shoot away and hope. Then you throw 9 out of ten photos away. But you love every single minute of it!

After that, everyone had to climb up to find the perfect little britches too. I figure it was out when none of the others were, because it had this huge sandstone boulder to reflect heat and light on it.

The sun has been such a rare commodity this winter and spring that I look at these photos and marvel that it was ever this bright and beautiful--and that was only two days ago. 

One of the cool things about spring ephemerals is that most of them don't open unless there's warm sun. So it HAS to be beautiful out if you're going to go looking for them. It naturally follows that you're going to have a wonderful time.  These are spring beauties, lined in pink. Their bulbs can persist for hundreds of years deep in the soil. 

Just look at these little things! So dainty, but so persistant.

Speaking of persistant, here's a hackberry tree Liam found. Someone had tried to chop it down, and then tried to burn it. The tree responded by discarding the wounded trunk and making a new sort of bark skin over it. It looked perfectly healthy.

We clambered back down the slope and the kids stopped to gaze into PawPaw Creek. This is the spot where Liam found his "Flosaraphtor" (velociraptor) claw so many years ago.  If you want to time travel, you should probably read this one first. 

In a bit of perfect irony, the kids found a mystery for their mom, the Science Chimp. 

Who was utterly amazed that a tiny hominid had been walking in fresh mud on a cool spring day....must have been Homo habilis, or Lucy!
No knuckle prints, so it was truly bipedal...
I'm schtumped!!

Traffic was so sparse they just flopped down in the sun. That's my kind of country road. In case you're wondering, we did not bring Curtis because he had been out on a huge multi-hour hunt, and he's kind of a pain to keep on a lead when I'm scrambling on all fours up 45 degree slopes.

Phoebe gettin' down with the spring beauties.

Ah, it was so sweet to be out with my kids and our friend, in the burgeoning woods of March.


Baby Bigfoot! ;-)

It's always fun to experience the seasons elsehwere--I'm about a month ahead of you in those terms, and we're hurtling towards summer here in SE Texas. And those archive posts were so fun---my now 5.5 year old would love to find a relic like that!

So nice to see those spring flowers, Julie! Here in upstate NY, we are about 3 weeks behind you, and I'm looking out my window at a dismal, rainy day. Hopefully we'll see coltsfoot soon; it's among the earliest perennials and shows up along the roadsides in my neighborhood.

A virtual botany outing--thank you.

Just reading about your outing brings me joy. And right now we need to find more joy, so thank you very much.

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