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Last Week in April

by Lynne Bittner

.....The river is running fast and higher since the recent rainfall, and the wildflowers in the woodland are now beginning to bloom. Dutchman's’ Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) wild cousin to our cultivated bleeding hearts, are coming to their peak and they carpet a south facing hillside in the woods. Mingling amongst it is the Cut Leafed Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata) now just beginning to bloom. Her delicate white petals are tinged pink and are closed against the chilly gray day. Like many of these early spring bloomers they close up shop at nightfall or when the sky threatens rain.

.... At the top of the hill a pair of Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) are nestled in a fairie hole at the base of an Oak tree. I recalled the walks in the woods that I used to take with our daughter Dorothy then 4 years old, who delighted in finding these little hollows in the bases of the trees.

.....Trout Lily colonies can cover vast areas in moist woods, meadows and bottom lands with its lovely green mottled foliage, but finding one in bloom remains a bit of a challenge. This is because it takes six or seven years for the plant to produce a flower stalk. Their bulbs or corms (which are sharp and pointy thus their curious nick name Dogtooth Violet) send up a single leaf or a pair of leaves (depending on the maturity of the plant) in the early spring which last all summer producing food to be stored in the corm. Because of the gray condition today, their nodding petals were closed up tight against the weather.

April 26, 2005

.....It had been one of those frustrating days and at the end of our work day, we decided to take a walk down the the river. The late afternoon sun brought warmer temperatures, and the river was running clearer today. I noted how the markings on the brown trout must serve them well as it so closely resembles the riverbed. Insects over the water did their rising and falling dance, and pair of Canada Geese came honking past. The tedium and troubles of my day began to dissolve as took in this world with its own quiet order and wonders.

.....I stood by contemplatively as Richie photographed a group of Dutchman’s Breeches growing on top of a steep embankment. The budding Hornbeam branches stretched out over the river like lace.

.....Walking back through the woods we found several Trout Lilies with their golden petals wide open. We also found several small stands of Trillium (Trillium erectum). The sunlight showed through their rich red petals making them glow like rubies. As we turned to leave we found a cluster of fiddle heads rising up out of the leaf litter.

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