Saturday, May 14, 2011

What's underneath it all

May apple blossom in the Rain

A blue school bus makes the steady climb along a narrow gravel drive in West Virginia.
From behind its steamed windows on a chilly morning, a group of birders looks out into the Appalachian woods, rich and wet from yesterday’s passing rain.
Higher and higher we climb.

The Bobolink Field

We’ve just come from a field in “High Country,” where bobolinks burst like popcorn from a broad, green hillside while the brisk wind tore at warm coats snuggly wrapped around birders waiting atop a grassy field on this morning in early May.
I remember them from years past in this very same place, perhaps the very same birds--
their bubbling, bell-like song falling like a shower on every upturned face.
Happy birders, every time—delighting in the abundant birdsong that each year we hope eagerly to hear again.
And then it is time to move on, leave the bobolinks to bury themselves in the knee-high grasses. Pack ourselves, bubbling, back onto the blue bus.

The New River Birding and Nature Festival provides a week’s ration of journeys just like this one—each day escorting onlookers to widely differing habitats from a misted river’s edge to high pastures and heavily wooded hills.
For me, it’s a trip beyond words.
For in the few hours’ drive that I make from southwestern Ohio, I leave the till plains of the central lowland behind and cross to the eastern Appalachian plateaus. The land becomes sharp and rocky. The trees and plants become different, too.
Instead of limestone and dolomite beneath it all, there’s sandstone, silt and shale.
What’s beneath it all determines what grows where.
What grows there, defines who uses it.


Red Trillium, Trillium erectum

This is red trillium or purple trillium, Trillium erectum, an acid-loving trillium found in the moist woods of the eastern United States. Usually bearing a deep red or purple flower, a white or faint yellow form is less commonly found.
Both color forms can be identified by the deep purple ovary visible in its center.
Commonly known as Wake Robin or Stinking Willie, the foul-smelling flower is pollinated by carrion flies. Fruit and seed dispersal is taken care of by ants.
Plants may take up to 15 years to mature before flowering!



Red Trillium, Trillium erectum



distribution of Trillium erectum
copied from Flora of North America


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3 comments:

Mary said...

Your description of the blue bus climbing the mountainside made me all teary eyed. Afraid of heights, I loved it anyway.

Guy said...

Nina

I really enjoy the minature worlds you evoke with your flower pictures.

Guy

dAwN said...

"bobolinks burst like popcorn from a broad, green hillside while the brisk wind tore at warm coats snuggly wrapped around birders waiting atop a grassy field on this morning in early May." <<<< AWESOME!!