Signs of the Season

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ImageLast week I photographed snow in the woods here on Beaver Island.

The snow was soft and definitely on its way out, but still mounded impressively. I showed the photos around when I went downstate last weekend. They weren’t as shocking as I thought they’d be, as it seems Winter lingered long all through the state of Michigan.

Today, the first of May, I think the snow is finally all gone on Beaver Island.

It was a shirtsleeves kind of day, with a nice breeze and warm sunshine. .

Walking the dogs today, I went looking for signs of Spring.

In my yard, the daffodils have burst into bloom by the kitchen door. Crocus are up in clusters, scattered through the front yard. The Siberian Squill has been blooming for a week or more, in amongst the drifts of snow. Hyacinths opened today!

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The woods, from the trail, look pretty bland. You have to look carefully to see the hint of green through the dead leaves blanketing the forest floor.

So, today it was off the path and through the woods, to get a close-up view of the changing season.

The wild leeks, called ramps, are the brightest and most visible color. Though they won’t be ready to harvest for a few weeks yet, their onion-like scent already perfumes the air.

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The feathery foliage of the Dutchman’s Breeches are poking up along the edges of the tree line. Soon their flowers, each like a pair of yellow pantaloons, will hang in the shade of the lacy green leaves.

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Spring Beauties, the tiny little flowers whose color is determined by the soil, are palest purple in my woods. In other areas they are pink, white or blue. The flower is not even an inch in diameter. The stem is as fine as thread. According to my aunt, now in her eighties, when she was a child, they picked Spring Beauties by the basketful. They wove them into a crown for the statue of the Blessed Mother, for the May celebration. They made them into floral swags for the children making First Communion to carry.

“You can’t do that anymore,” she told me, “now they’re endangered.”

“No wonder” I replied.

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Trout Lilies will eventually have a small, lily-like flower. Now, in early Spring, they show only the leaves that, in shape and color, resemble a speckled trout.

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Wild Strawberries are up!

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And, finally, the Princess Pine. It used to be harvested by the peck at Christmastime, to make pretty, long-lasting wreaths. Though it’s still plentiful here on Beaver Island, it is protected in this state.

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As one additional mark of the season, though I didn’t get a photo to document it, the Sandhill Cranes have returned to the pond.

This must be Spring!

21 responses »

  1. A lovely post, Cindy. I am astonished at how quickly plants must flower and birds/animals must reproduce before the onslaught of another winter. It looks as if those plants truely surfaced over night. All are so beautiful. Trout lillies we have here but are considered rare in our area. Destruction of wooded areas did them in. I really liked reading about the plants and seeing the photos. The little Christmas pine. I think it was, is quite unique. Those plants now endangered must hang on for dear life all because of man’s greediness and ignorance. Very sad.

    • Thank you for reading, Yvonne, and for your kind comments. I feel like I’ve been neglecting all my blogging friends lately, so busy with Spring. I do so appreciate you taking the time to respond. Yes, the Princess Pine, by the Fall of the year, looks just like a miniature evergreen, only six inches tall!

  2. cindy! thank you for taking me on a walk to see those early risers of spring! there’s something special about those eager species that remind us to embrace the day. i especially liked the narrative about the spring beauties.

    z

    • Thank you for reading, Lisa, and for your kind comments. I’m so far behind – seems all of a sudden – this Spring, it was nice to take a thoughtful walk to get a sense of time and place.

  3. I’m so happy for you! Spring is there, finally! I’m still waiting to see some blooms pop out, but I think our snow is finally done. Enjoy the rebirth in your neck of the woods!

    • Day before yesterday, the radio said “more snow” for parts of the western U.P., Wisconsin and Minnesota. My thoughts went right to you, knowing how tired you (all of us, I think!) are of the snow. I hope you’re seeing blooms soon. Sorry to be a bit scattered in my reading, writing and responding, with the warmth I found myself immediately behind schedule in getting to my flower beds! Thanks for reading, and for your comments, Sara!

      • We got more snow today. I think we’re doomed to a whole year of very cold temps and winter weather. On the other hand, I’ll be wishing for this weather when we get 90 degrees with 80% humidity in August. Oh well. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else despite the very weird weather.

  4. Cindy, you did a very nice woods post. Isn’t it lovely that spring has, well, almost returned? Yours is a bit further along than ours. I haven’t seen any daffodils or trout lilies or spring beauties yet. However, if they’re in your neck of the woods–they’re sure to come here soon. Happy spring!

    • Thank you for the compliment, Kathy! Our Spring is a bit sooner here, yes. I thought of you when that snow came through the U.P. last week! Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

    • Oh, I’ll have to look around. I mainly just use them instead of onions, for a little variation of flavor. Sauteed with morels is my favorite way, when I can find morels. They are good in soups and stews, and fine with fried potatoes. I find their flavor a bit too strong to eat raw, though some people do. Maybe I’ll get adventurous this year! Thanks, Tammy!

    • Oh, yes, we have several nesting pairs here, and I’m so thankful for them…they are such a sight to watch! They seem almost like a prehistoric bird to me. Thanks for reading, Karen, and for your comments!

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