Ephemerals

When I walk on my wooded property, I keep my eyes downcast. These days I’m looking for signs of spring in the return of the ephemeral wildflowers that grow here. The ground is covered with leaf litter, and the garlic mustard is already beginning to show its persistent face here and everywhere else. But I have my eyes on spring prizes. 

The spring beauties are beginning to bloom. (I actually gasp with excitement when I find one.) Their small white petals have faint pink veins. Thousands of them are on the way; these are the first hardy arrivals. B057BA76-9E6C-48A0-BAC6-351EE6A186DBWe bought this wooded property almost 20 years ago because we saw woodland wildflowers, delicate spring beauties prominent among them.

I know from last spring where different species will appear, so I walk and look and find the foliage of Dutchman’s breeches. No flowers yet, just lacy foliage. I didn’t realize they were related to bleeding hearts, one of my favorite spring flowers that was an old faithful in the garden where we used to live. 

The more I look, the more I see. On a narrow path that last spring was a carpet of May-apples, I see elongated mottled leaves beginning to unfurl. Maybe white trout lilies? I’ll know in a few days. 

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There’s a book’s worth of lessons here: Gather ye wildflowers while ye may…The present moment is all we have…Hold things lightly…Beauty will save the world. 

I will continue studying.

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