Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Today’s Blessings” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.
On February 2nd Punxsutawney Phil promised an early Spring and was met with the cheers of a nation. I personally jumped for joy and halted my plans for groundhog stew. However, I may have been duped. We may have been duped. I have the sneaking suspension this devious rodent has no idea when Spring is coming. I can imagine this escapee from a Bill Murray film pacing inside his hole. “What am I going to tell them this time?” He asks himself. Finally he closes his eyes and spins the wheel at his desk. The needle lands on early Spring and the prediction is made. What brings me to think that we’re not having an early Spring? The Feature Image. This photo was taken on March 24 2019. It’s the little Bradford Pear in the parking lot of my day job. I have been watching it because I wanted to capture the first open bloom. One of the reasons that I do this is so I can track the metadata. The dates are important to me so that I can predict when the natural events in my area will give me a photo op. Photography is more than just documenting the way something looks. It’s about capturing the passage of time. So imagine how surprised I was to find out that this year’s bloom was about a week or so late!
Picture taken on March 16th 2018
As you can see in the photo above last year’s bloom was not only fully open on March 16th but also fully mature.
So what gives? Was it just the warmer weather last year? Well, yes and no. The warmer soil does have a little bit to do with it but short answer is that plants can see sunlight. (Sort of). It shouldn’t come as a shock that plants have photoreceptors. Chemical proteins that detect the presence of sunlight. They don’t really have a picture of the world like we do but they can tell what wavelengths of light that’s hitting their surface. Certain wavelengths trigger a response in the buds and they begin to grow and mature. The amount of light in combination with a wavelength just happens to coincide with the warmer weather. It all works together to get the timing right. But the original question remains. Was Spring early or late? In the grand scheme of things it was right on time. A few days in one direction or the other makes little difference. The real mystery is why the date that the wavelengths varies from one year to the next? Is the sun broken? No, the sun’s just fine. But it does experience it’s own weather and seasonal changes. That effects on what day the earth’s tilt, rotation and orbit brings us into alignment with those life sustaining rays. I’m sure that I’ve bypassed a lot of hard core science and complex calculations that would boggle the mind. When I think about all the factors that go into making the season change I began to appreciate the job that the poor Groundhog has. I don’t really blame him for resorting to random chance. And, I have those beautiful flowers to enjoy today. It would be a mistake to lose today’s joy by comparingit to yesterday’s happiness or tomorrow’s expectations.
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I have a confession to make. I’ve spent all day today wearing my “Monday Face”. It’s been one of those days where you want to be productive but it seems like the universe is flowing in the wrong direction. I once heard a survival instructor say that hiking in the Amazon was like being on a treadmill that’s raised to its highest level while people throw rocks, sticks and mud at your boots. I’m certain that he thought that up on a Monday. Its on days like this that I long to escape into the mountains for a little peace and quiet. It was on such a day that I found the Trillium pictured above. These are early spring flowers that start off as a deep maroon and fade to a pure white. It is as if the the flower mellows out over time. Just looking at the photo gives me sense of peace. I can almost smell the moss on the forest floor and feel the breeze. A quiet moment in nature is the perfect cure for “Monday Face” even if it was enjoyed digitally.
The Cardinal Flower is a common sight in Eastern North America. It’s an important resource for hummingbirds and it’s used Native American herbal medicine. (It is considered toxic to humans!) If you want to read more about the scientific information on Cardnial Flower you can click HERE. But, if you’re interested in the new myth then read on.
A very long time ago two tribes lived in the Appalachian mountains. They were separated by a large river. One tribe farmed and fished the Northern bank and the other made their living on the Southern side. They would occasionally trade by meeting in center of the flat water in dugout canoes. Until one winter day when a disagreement arose over a bad trade. From that point on the tribes would be enemies. The Northern chieftain had a young son who was a fearless warrior. He excelled in every challenge. When his father fell ill the tribe’s shaman sent him on a mission to gather fungus from the birch trees which was on the other side of the river. While gathering the fungus he stumbled upon a young maiden bathing in a side stream of the river. His heart skipped a beat and it was love at first sight. He was so struck by her beauty that he forgot where he was and stepped on a twig snapping it. The sound alerted her his presence and she gasped loudly when she realized she wasn’t alone. Their eyes met his love was returned. They were so lost in each other’s gaze that they didn’t notice the other warriors responding to her gasp until an arrow found it’s mark deep inside the young man’s chest. He stumbled towards her and died on the edge of the water. In her heartbreak, the maiden fainted in the middle of the stream and drowned. The warriors in both tribes were in shock. As they looked at the scene that had just played out a single red flower sprung up from the blood that was spilled on the water’s edge. To their amazement, a small bird with a ruby red throat rose from spot where the maiden fell. The bird flew over and began to kiss the flower and to this day when a hummingbird kisses a Cardnial Flower it’s a reminder that even death cannot stop true love.
West Virginia is still a few weeks from Spring. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the bursts of color and the sound of tweeting birds. At the end of February, I start looking at the buds on the trees for signs of life. The Dogwood is one of the first to wake up. I began to get excited just thinking about it. The long cold nights have been giving way to earlier sunrises and later sunsets every day. Soon it will be time to plant gardens and gather the dead wood from the lawn for the fire pit. In the past few days I’ve started hearing the frogs sing and the hatchling fish have been spotted in the stream that runs through my property. Life is returning to the mountains once more.