Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Keep Your Eyes Open! It's Springtime!

No matter how busy I am, I try to make time to see and experience springtime. Spring lurches in to Northeast Ohio. Early on you move back and forth from winter to summer. But the days inexorably grow longer, the spring peepers start to sing their mating song, the trees begin turning red as buds swell, and wildflowers begin to bloom.

As Walt Whitman might proclaim: I'm the witness. I was there. I am there!

Here is a recent poem about the lurching nature of early spring:

Wake to Warmth, Light, and Song

Three days ago, snow covered the ground,
But today I hike in 70-degree sunshine—

What is it? Late late winter?
Early early spring?

The woods seem dormant still,
But fringing the wetlands I see pussy willow bloom,
And in the mud flats flags rise up six inches, cattails really,
And skunk cabbage in its strange purple swirl—
This swamp is a furnace of heat and life,
Even in the winter.

I notice swollen red maple buds in the wet woods
And hear more bird song than I’ve heard in months—
Cardinals, redwing blackbirds, mourning doves,
And all the invisible, to me, birds
Who, on treetops, sing like coloratura sopranos.

And then, near the marsh, I hear
For the first time in ten months
The joyful chorus of spring peepers.

We have survived the silence, the darkness,
The barrenness: we wake to warmth,

To light,
To song!

                        [Bob Coughlin / March 10, 2016]

One of the early signs of spring is the blooming of the serviceberry tree (which is called "sarvis" in Kentucky and the Appalachians). I have recently written a poem about this blooming:

Sarvis Time

The Serviceberry bloom on the hillsides
And the forest edges, the Herald of Spring &
Resurrection of a woods that still looks lifeless.

The signs of renewed life are present , but subtle:
Bloodroot unfolding, coltsfoot, looking like little suns,
Ramps greening up the forest floor.

In Kentucky this tree is called “Sarvis,”
Flowering when the itinerant preachers arrived in early spring,
Holding “sarvices” for the winter’s dead.

Bu this tree doesn’t feel like a funeral, but a birth,
Rebirth, christening, anointing the forehead

With a Sign of Hope.

Sarvis in bloom

Linda and I walk in all the parks around Northeast Ohio. Many of them are excellent places for wildflowers (I think of Big Creek and Headwaters Park in Geauga; Penitentiary Glenn and Girdled Road Reservation in Lake County; North Chagrin and South Chagrin in Cuyahoga County). And so many more! Northeast Ohio might not be as good as Eastern Kentucky and the Smoky Mountains for wildflowers--but it is pretty darn good!

Here are some recent photos of local wildflowers:

Trillium--one of my favorite wildflowers

A field of trillium (Headwaters Park, Geauga County)

Squirrel Corn (with some blue violets)

Yellow violets

Skunk cabbage

Marsh marigold (Booth Road, Kirtland Hills)

Bluebells, Girdled Road Reservation

Trout Lily

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