My third-born son and I are becoming Nature Nerds. I wear that title with pride, and I think he kind of just gets roped into these outdoor adventures. But he does take it with a nice attitude, and is learning all the way, even if he doesn’t quite gush enthusiasm for flowers, if you know what I mean! After all, he’s eleven! That might not be cool to be too interested in flowers. But, remember Luther Burbank and George Washington Carver, Elliot Coleman, and other fine men who appreciate wild things, and you will see that flowers and plants are for everyone!
Well, we took an excursion yesterday to see the wildflowers. We hooked up with two dear old friends (old friends, not OLD friends, as in old ladies) who happened to know bunches about all things wild! You never know what you will stumble across out on the trail–I just figure you have to get out there and start looking, because the flowers are there, whether anyone sees them or not. When you do come across little patches of beauty, it is such a treat for the eyes and for the soul! If I miss these beauties, it’s kind of my own fault, because there they are, just blooming for all they are worth!
We came across some neat finds! Some stumped us, which led us to scour the field guides and good old Google when we came back to the cars, but, as the Good Teacher said, “Seek, and ye shall find.”
We discovered that what we initially thought was the Little Brown Jug plant was actually another in its family, the Southern Heartleaf plant. I looked up pictures on the internet when I got home, but the photos I saw still look like they are mottled a bit differently. Naturally, I think that the ones we saw are prettier, but that’s because they are ours. Much like your baby always looks nicer to you than other people’s, and I think that’s just fine! I think they are just neat-looking flowers.
We were hiking around Hot Springs, NC, and explored three trails with our friends. The Jack’s Branch Trail, which a friend had heard about for its wildflowers, we found overgrown, and a definite rugged walk! Over logs, under logs, across the creek, through fallen trees and over mossy logs. We didn’t quite find the official trail’s end, but knew we found the correct beginning point, at least an old point of entry. Later on, we did find a new connection into this trail, which was plainly marked. So, that will be an adventure for another day!
Along the rugged trail we spotted some lovely Silver Bells, which grow on a tree. I had never seen this type of tree before. We almost stepped onto a patch of Dwarf Crested Irises, in both light and dark purple! They are quite lovely! We found Yellow Bellwort flowers growing along the way, although I’m not sure what variety they were, as my pictures turned out fuzzy. We saw many other Spring wildflowers that were so nice–the Fire Pinks bloomed abundantly, Blue Phlox, Star Chickweed, Wood Anemone, and lots of violets! I learned more new names–The Purple and White Phacelia, and Bishop’s cap were among them.
All in all, we had a good experience–great company and and lovely day!
My son and I decided to take the scenic short-cut back home, and are we ever glad that we did! We didn’t know that The Lord had surprises waiting for us! As we drove the back road back along the French Broad River, we kind of started to relax. We put an audio story on to listen to, and just sort of drove along slowly, enjoying the scenery. Suddenly, a striped cat leaped across our path! Wait, no–he was a Bobcat! He sprang across the road, looking just like our tabby house cat without the tail. Yes, he was a bit larger, but not considerably! We stayed there in the road until he disappeared into the woods, but we felt excited to see one of God’s creatures that prefer to remain hidden.
The next surprise greeted us as we entered into the Paint Creek Corridor. A banquet of white trillium flowers spread out before us, lining the road! I was amazed! I’d been hoping to see trilliums all week, and now, without really looking for them at all, there they were! I couldn’t resist the urge to take pictures of them, and after snapping a few, I realized there were at least two varieties, although they do look similar. We saw the Bent Trillium, I believe, and the Sweet White Trillium, which has the burgundy/dark center. I thought we found another variety, the pink streaked one, but I think that is what they start to look like when they get older. Honestly, I could be wrong about that, but I could not find any other trilliums that look similar to these streaked ones. I personally think they are very beautiful flowers with the colored streaks! I took a picture of the buds of some, and almost thought they were the Bent Trillium. I believe they are all the Sweet Whites in the group that I saw.
We had just one more trail to check out, since a nature-savvy friend of mine had told me about a certain trail that often had Trailing Arbutus growing on it at very specific times of the year. We were literally driving by the trail, so I thought we’d better try to see those! If I hadn’t known what to look for, we’d have overlooked them for sure, because you have to lift leaves–dry and live to try to see the little pink flowers. Imagine our disappointment to see that they had just bloomed and lost their flowers! I said a little prayer for our hike, and whispered that maybe we could be permitted to see some of these flowers that we’d heard about.
Later along the path, we did find a patch, and with some poking around, found blossoms that were still fresh! I made sure to bend down to take a sniff, and had my son do the same, for the fragrance was like nothing else! Reminded me of a nice perfume! Thanks to our Kind Father for allowing us to experience these little jewels.
Just after leaving the flower patch, we began to head down the trail. As we hiked along, we both stopped short at a rather loud rustling sound just to our right, and down the ravine. “A bear, my son gasped! Yikes, I thought, and tried to follow the dark form with my eyes. It scrambled up the other side of the ravine, across from us. I felt tense as it didn’t move away, and blended into the shadows.
I whispered a prayer that God would help this crazy mama and her boy, seeings that we were hiking all alone in the park, no cell service, and no one knowing where we were! I wondered how far to the end of the trail (I knew it wasn’t a long trail, but long can be relative, depending on whether you are being chased by a bear or not)!
We couldn’t exactly see how big the bear was, which made me nervous. I knew it didn’t look huge, but all the trees made it difficult to see if it was a cub or grown-up. If it was a cub, I knew Mama Bear was somewhere, and I did not want to meet her! The bear ended up moving along and away, and we decided that we would be wise to do the same!
Our day in the Wilds ended, we came home refreshed! We stopped along the driveway to take a shot of the Pink Lady’s Slipper bud that we’ve been watching. I am trying to be patient for the flower to open, but it is taking its own sweet time about it! It will be worth the wait, I am sure!