When you walk the same path every day, you learn to look for subtle changes in the surrounding landscape. Exuberant spring makes this a daily pleasure each morning. And it is the little things that often surprise me. Last week, while walking in the nature preserve looking for wildflowers, a sprinkling of lavender and pink redbud blossoms suddenly appeared at my feet. Looking up, I scanned the canopy for the tree. I didn’t find one. The wind had apparently carried the blossoms to my path. But with so little color in the landscape, this tiny drop of pink along my path made my heart smile.
There are two hidden places where I watch for the trillium to bloom. This plant is not common in our woodlands and is endangered as picking it usually kills the plant. I’ve seen it with white, pink, red and chocolate blossoms. It is one of the first wildflowers to emerge.
Further into the preserve, there is a lovely place where I can sit and observe the marsh. Some kind person brought two chairs so you can sit on the deck. Each week, I scan the water to see what is growing below the surface and peeking above. This week, the tiny tips of the Arrow Arum greeted me. This plant is so named because its leaf looks like an arrowhead. A week ago, the only green I found were grasses that had sprouted. Now, many of the Arrow Arum’s leaves poke their heads above the water, some fluttering with the wind, signaling the carpet of green that will come with summer.
Simultaneously, I noticed that the dragonflies have arrived, which will make the kingfishers happy. I was curious about what kinds of dragon and damsel flies we have in this county, and the long list surprised me. They have wonderful names: skimmers, cruisers, darners, damsels, gliders, spreadwings, just to name a few! Some frogs and toads were out sunning themselves in the shallows and on the sides of trees. I even saw a small garter snake exploring the edges of the marsh. There must be a lot of newly hatched bugs as the wren was flitting in an among last year’s button bushes, finding much to eat that was invisible to my eyes.
Some trees have sprouted their spring flowers and seeds. Others, like the buckeye, have fully unfurled their leaves and already sport a tower of buds ready to open in the spring sunshine. You’ll miss the Pawpaw’s chocolate-colored blossoms on the bare branches if you don’t remember to look for them in March.
Pull back the winter blanket of leaves and you’ll find the pinkish-brown jug-shaped blossoms of the wild ginger plant.
Most of the wildflowers on the forest floor are tiny and delicate. It amazes me that the Lord can create vast mountain ranges like the Alps, then turn around and place fragile wildflowers in the woodlands. It says much about His character. If you attune your eye to see tiny specks of color, you’ll see other wildflowers, such as the hepatica, unfurl their delicate soft blue petals and tiny leaves. Unlike the bloodroot, which last only a few days of blossoms, the white hepatica sticks around for several weeks. The blue version of this plant stays barely a week.
The first lacey appearance of the trees is from their flowers and seeds. Oaks produce catkins that release pollen, much to the dismay of my sinuses. Many trees have both male and female pollinators. The sweet gum releases pollen in the spring, fertilizing the circular blossoms that ultimately become the brown spikey balls we see on the ground in the fall and winter.
Spring also brings subtle change with the birds, especially ones like the goldfinches, which change from their velvet green winter coats to bright yellow. There are also new birdsongs that join the winter chorus. The yellow throat warbler with its black mask, which lives in the field just beyond my path, has arrived from its winter home. He is singing merrily in the sunshine.
I love this time of year because changes start slowly, then speed up until we are in the abundance of full bloom in May and June. It goes so fast, it’s well to take some time and enjoy it unfolding before you. Just as His blessings are new every morning, so is the gift of spring the Lord gives us every year. He is so faithful.
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
Matthew 6:28-29 NIV