For the past couple of days the temperatures, humidity, and pollen counts have been high. Tree pollen has been very high, and today’s walk showed evidence that the trees have been producing much more than just leaves.
Today, just before I turned onto the trail, we noticed the sound of masses of leaves rustled by swells of warm humid breezes and thought it was the first time this year to have a walk with that lovely sound! However once on the trail the air was actually quite still, the trees not whooshing around. A hazy cloud cover prevented direct sunlight from coming through the woods, and the woods seemed dark.
As we started onto the trail, a man was walking out of the woods towards us wearing a large heavy wool overcoat, on a 90 degree day, which was odd to say the least. Trails close to urban areas draw in drifters and people looking to take advantage of the cover of the woods to remain unobserved. It can be good to keep aware of surroundings, keep in sight of other walkers, and realize that in the warmer weather various people will enter the woods.
Also at this time of year, it’s possible to get a feeling of disorientation along favorite paths. The changes happen so quickly, and after months of bare trees and long lines of sight through the unchanging winter months, the woods suddenly seem to confuse and become unpredictable.
Even after memorizing the trails in the long patient winter, our minds are truly forced to work harder to interpret this copious fast-growing greenery. Plants we found two weeks ago, have passed and disappeared or been overgrown, as we look for them wondering how something so obvious is now nowhere to be found.
Trout lilies are gone without a trace. Marsh marigolds have yellowed and become threadbare. The fluffy periwinkle patches have been subsumed by a riot of leggy vines and other scraggly looking growth. Tree trunks, large stones, or other landmarks change shape as plants overtake them, sometimes abruptly altering your points of reference!
At times I find myself forming questions – “Don’t I know these woods?” Sometimes the woods will surprise you with rare beauty, sometimes it will surprise you with a reminder of life’s difficulties.
A few fungus type things caught the eye today. A small white mushroom forming from the side of a downed tree. A bright yellow foamy substance on a different log. And short yellow cone-type things which had popped up out of the soil in small groups and clusters around the woods. At one point along the trail there were many clusters on one side of the trail but not the other!
There were just a few flowers this week. A few violets caught our eye, but my camera didn’t capture their deep purple well. A few white flowers this week. One appeared in several locations, varying heights, and looked very similar to wild strawberry plants. Also a bush that appeared to have azalea flowers bloomed and past; and another bush with tiny white bell flowers.
The low lighting made it difficult to take photos. The camera had difficulty focusing, and the exposure resulted in blurry photos. The camera also tends to brighten the photos by several shades, so the woods appear brighter than it was. By the end of the day, a few rays of sunlight came through between the trees and left a couple of golden traces on the ground. It seemed to clear the air and light a bit even though it was getting late in the day. The woods change!
More in a later post.
Fragaria virginiana – Virginia strawberry or wild strawberry