The Inventory

For about a week in early April, the squirrels become flying Wallendas, dangling upside down from the strands of the willow tree while they feast on the tree’s delicate flowers, or catkins.

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And finally, there’s the non-linear equation that drives the Spring Attractor: an early morning walk. Yin, the dark side of the ridge. Yang, the bright side of the ridge, over there where the sun is already burning off the morning mist.  The gates of dawn. New sun, new day, new season, come again, the familiar mystery.

On a dreary day in the second week of April, the desiccated leaves of the young beech trees are easily mistaken for dogwood blossoms afloat above the green mist of the understory.

Skunk cabbage begins to poke out of the leaf litter in early March. The purple spathe unfurls to reveal the spadix, which blossoms there in the privacy of its purple grotto, and then by mid-April, as the spathe begins to decay, an adjacent green bud unfurls into the leaves of the mature plant.  For a wonderful account of the life and times of the skunk cabbage, click here.

As the skunk cabbage spreads along the streambanks, higher up on the hillside, the mayapples begin to unfurl their tents, waiting for the fairies who live under them to arrive in their pale yellow skirts.

And then one morning the wild flowers begin to appear, inventory within inventory, symmetry across scale, so ephemeral that they are gone before you can say their names: spring beauty, cut-leaf toothwart, garlic mustard, blue wood violet, roundleaf yellow violet, swamp buttercup, bugleweed, mayapple again (when the fairies arrive).