From Trees to Forest

Spring has been a little late in coming this year but I feel I can firmly say she has arrived! I have to admit I have been almost dreading it. The clarity and depth of detail you can see on the mountains without their foliage is beautiful to me. The early spring changes almost make it seem as if fall has returned. The red buds on the maples provide some hint of those fall colors and they slowly evolve into shades of tan before their spring baby green leaves appear.

Early spring with fall like colors
Early spring with fall like colors

And yet nature is reminding me of the beauty of these mountains when they transform from woods to forest in all their finery! The mountain floor is changing too and slowly I spy tiny small wildflowers growing along the banks. The native ferns have begun to appear and uncurl from the ground as they prepare to provide their greenery to the mountain as well.

Riley and I have walked more with the coming of warmer weather and sunshine. We’ve made great friends with the baby calves that have been born this year. I love to see those young animals romp and play on the hillsides and pastures. And when you look at these pastures one can imagine why grazing cattle and sheep remain primary uses of this land. The steep slopes and hills simply make other types of agriculture impossible. I see so much evidence of the dedication of these farmers to caring for their animals. One late evening I saw a farmers truck on top of the ridge bringing food to his cattle or perhaps checking on a new calf.

I’ve seen the first bear of the season as well, alongside the road one night. He was a big guy, all black and he rambled off as my car approached him. New colts are in the pastures as well as new lambs in the flocks of sheep.

Farmer's truck with his cattle at night
Farmer’s truck with his cattle at night
Our friends the cows.
Our friends the cows.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather would take our family out for a Sunday afternoon drive over winding, curvy gravel roads. I remember sitting in the back seat of his dodge sedan feeling quite bored at times. I remember him talking of one family or a memory of his as we road that would be spurred by the specific house or curve in the road. And we would truly come to a complete stop and take in the smallest wild flower along the mountain side. A trillium would be cause for great joy, and blackberries would allow us to get out of the car and pick them from the banks. My grandfather loved the mountain wild flowers! Whole slide shows at Christmas and summer family gatherings always included as many slides of these tiny jewels as it would those of us grandchildren.

And so this spring it has taken me by complete surprise that I find myself doing the same things that my grandfather did. I found blood root growing on the mountain side and I dug several bulbs from the ground and took them to my yard to transplant. So far, they have done well. I also found myself pulling periwinkle vines from the roadside and placing them in a glass of water for a few days to root and now have planted them on a steep bank behind the house. And then, just this week I found myself stopping my car with Riley inside because I saw trillium, that beautiful red small flower growing just on the other side of the mountain. And you must all know that today I plan on trying to find those few trillium a home in my own yard as well.

Tiny blood root flower
Tiny blood root flower

Spring is here and the winter trees are on their way to becoming the forests of the summer. Nature is providing her constant presence in the winds that blow through the trees reminding us of the beauty of movement that comes with the leaves and grasses. The birds are back and the air is full of chirps and singsong sounds. The mountains like the bears are seemingly coming out of their long winters sleep.

The spring green creeping up the mountainside
The spring green creeping up the mountainside
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