Monday, April 02, 2012

Spring has Sprung...

In the midst of some sadness, spring has sprung. I went with my friend Susan to the Morton Arboretum. Susan is an avid, and I mean A-V-I-D birder and botanist. Down to knowing bird calls cold, and knowing the botanical name of most every plant we encountered. It was thoroughly cool to walk the arboretum with her.

Redbuds & Daffodils
Here are some of my shots. We were shooting all kinds of stuff and just enjoying a lovely afternoon. Friendships can really help you out. Even if you don't think they will, they do. Without trying too hard, which is the nicest part.

This is one of the first sights we saw as we entered the drive. Twin redbuds with a veritable ground covering of daffodils. I had to wait till the guy on the right walked away. He was shooting some mighty close-up shots of the daffodils. I only had the small camera. I wasn't sure if we were going to hike for a while, and the bigger (better) camera is a pain in the neck - literally - to haul around. Of course, if I had any sense, I'd have done what Susan did and brought a backpack. Oh well. Live and learn.

So dig the gorgeous daffodil.  This was what was under those redbuds. I had those growing in my south garden. Except that the squirrels loved them. To eat.

There were several areas of the arboretum that had been "naturalized" - where they took the bulbs and literally tossed them (well, ok, some landscape designer probably did a lot of it) and wherever they landed, they got planted. The garden has some lovely sections and we drove around most of them, just seeing what we could see. As it's still quite early, in spite of our winter-that-wasn't, the trees are only now starting to bud. But the wildflowers and spring bulbs are going crazy.

We didn't see a lot of wildlife. That was a little weird. We saw some bluebirds, robins, ducks and the like, but I can't remember even seeing a squirrel, much less anything else. Maybe that's a good thing, but on the other hand, even the lack of songbirds was a little odd. You'd expect some singing to be going on.

More of the arboretum's nature: a lovely reflection on one of the many small lakes. We saw that there were fish in there, and at least one turtle. But even with the gorgeous day, no amphibians were sunning on the rocks.

I wasn't sure which path we were going to take, so I did bring the walking poles; a good practice for my upcoming Avon 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer (click the link if you'd like to donate!!).

We took a partial trail. Ran into a very helpful docent. We just missed the wildflower walk. However, the very helpful docent told us that the plant we were staring at and trying madly to find in the Peterson's (wildflower guide) was a trout lily. Well. I never. They were all over the place. Next to one, we found Dutchmen's Breeches.

So if you look at this picture, the flower on the top (note the spotted leaves) is the trout lily. It takes seven years to shoot up a second leaf and then the flower. Talk about persistence. Dutchmen's Breeches is the little string of flowers below. It's not a particularly great shot, because if you've ever really seen the Breeches, they really do look like skivvies on the laundry line!

We went quite a ways and then we saw it. The tree I had been oooooooh-ing and ahhhhhhhhhhhhh-ing over since Downton Abbey and possibly the last "Masterpiece" great British miniseries. And you don't see too many of these around, because we're a young nation. Here's the tree. Or, more appropriately The Tree. This tree would be perfectly at home in a Tim Burton film. Or a Hitchcock noir. Or anything Vincent Price did in his B-movie Horror phase. It must be HUNDREDS of years old. It's an old oak. An old, old, OLD oak. The thing was gorgeous. I couldn't get the most wonderful picture because the light was fading, but it was a magnificent tree. You can see how some of the branches on the left are just on the ground. The tree was just starting to bud, so you have the solid, stolid, strong and sure trunk and large branches. And the oh-so-delicate catkins as the tree buds. Just the most magnificent pale green lace draping the dark brown sturdy branches. Lovely.

Here's another one - of the elusive bluebird. You have to squint a bit, but he's there - in the middle of the shot. He was literally preening for us for a little bit. Morton has quite a few bluebird houses, and we saw at least one wood duck house on another pond.

We walked through a pine grove and saw some gorgeous false rue, some shell-like fungus and some deep red trillium. Here they are for your enjoyment.

Looking up thru pines
False rue

If you get a chance this spring, get out. Get out and look at nature. Unplug. We saw a surprising number of people who were jogging on the paved pathways, plugged into their ear buds. Well, ok, the birds weren't going nuts. But please: unplug for your own safety and also to just absorb nature. You may not be buzzing about your playlist but Mother Nature has a playlist all her own. And it's very refreshing to listen to.

Shell-shaped fungus
We plan to go in another couple of months. In the meantime, maybe Hubby and I will put the bikes on the truck and go out there. With 9 miles of roads, we can do a couple of turns quite easily. It's always nice to get out and enjoy the scenery. We have paniers on the bikes so we can also pack a lunch, since looking at me in spandex in a cafe would be distressing to normal humans!

Red trillium
No dogs are allowed at the arboretum. No joggers or bikers on the mulched paths. This leaves you free to enjoy nature as you like. When you like, since they're open every day of the year. Enjoy.

Just look at this pine grove. What do you think of when you see this? Me? I think of peace and quiet. Something we can all use in our lives.

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