Walked early this morning, before the low clouds burned off, and had a steady fog-dampened breeze in my face that made it feel like a summer morning in the NC mountains. There is so much going on out there that I tried to keep a mental list of sightings but couldn't keep up with it all.
The first thing I noticed on the way out to the pipeline is that one of our patches of Mountain Laurel is in full bloom. The tallest is about 12 - 15 feet high - it towered over my head as I walked the path my husband made years ago that winds directly beneath it. Bees buzzed around the delicate blooms that glowed in the gray morning.
As I walked downhill on the pipeline I heard the musical song of my all-time favorite bird, the Wood Thrush. They're back!!! (from southern Mexico/Central America/Panama) and singing their hearts out in our woods. They truly have the most beautiful song of all song birds. I heard three, I think, as I progressed downhill to Meetinghouse Creek, and then up again toward the far fence (3/4 mile). "Watery" is how I always describe the Wood Thrush song. Other descriptions I've read.... "ethereal (oh yes!)," and "flute-like (definitely!)." Also heard this morning on the pipeline near the house was the call of a Bob White! When we first built here we heard them every year, but in the last 8 - 10 years they have been scarce. What a thrill to hear these two birds within an hour of each other.
As I approached the steep drop-off before Meetinghouse Creek I paused to consider my path and happened to notice, right along the edge of the woods, a flash of color... not bright color, but a rich dark red. Instead of heading down I picked my way across the washed out hillside to see what it could be. It was Sweetshrub! This is a common wildflower in the Piedmont, but until today not found on my treks through Middlewood or the adjoining pipeline or far woods. This discovery definitely added to my morning joy. Just below this spot is where the Green and Gold is blooming, and where the White Rattlesnake-root is sending out its large, fancy-cut leaves. Also on this damp stream-bank are numerous ferns, Joe Pye Weed, and other goodies. Out in the sun blooms thousands of Lyre-Leaved Sages, Spotted Cat's Ears, Cinquefoils, Low-bush Blueberries, Dewberries, and as of yesterday, Lance-leaved Coreopsis. The Gray Beard-tongue has swollen pink buds ready to pop.
So you might wonder about my journal drawing of grass. Grass? with all those flowers and birds out there? For the record I decided I need to try to learn about our native grasses. I sat on my bench with a field guide and identified three of these before I drew them. Anyone out there know the other two? When I looked closely at two of them I saw the spiders. Luckily I've gotten over my hatred of spiders and was able to appreciate and draw them. Just hope I don't dream about them tonight!