Friday, March 19, 2010

Heartleaf, Round-lobed Hepatica, Cicada Exoskeleton

Oh, what a day! Strong sun in a blue, blue sky, warm air with a cool breeze. The dogs and I hiked along Meetinghouse Creek, through the huge patch of creeping cedar, until it gets squeezed between two rocky bluffs. Here the creek looks like it's in the mountains as it tumbles over and between mossy rocks into small, silent pools. It's a special spot.

I found this (above) and other small groups of Heartleaf on the south-facing bluff, and started hunting for one with a flower. I searched quite a few before finding this one, and it wasn't even open yet. I decided it would have to do. The spot where I settled, on a natural flat stone, was so steep around me that when Daisy ran to me for a treat, and I told her to sit, she had difficulty doing it and then she began to sliiide downhill. She stood, repositioned herself, and sat for another treat only to slowly sliiide back down. Radu was smarter. He refused to sit and gave me the Radu stink-eye, which means you're crazy if you think I'm gonna sit. He has his moods, you know, and they have been more pronounced since Daisy's arrival last year.

After drawing the Heartleaf, I crossed the creek and did an all-out search for the Round-lobed Hepaticas. I've found them here before in early spring but I couldn't remember exactly where. I only knew they were on this extremely steep, difficult to scale, north-facing hill. Radu and Daisy didn't find it difficult, but I was holding onto small trees, almost crawling around on all fours trying to find the flower. I found the first one in deep shade at the base of a huge Red Oak. The leaves were very distinctive and obvious, but I had to get close to notice the one small flower bud. I drew the plant and bud, then I headed back onto the slope to try to find a fully opened flower. The second plant found was in the sun, and the flower was so bright there was no way anyone could miss it - except that the hill is so steep, I can't imagine that any other person has climbed around to see the tiny spring ephemeral.

Radu, Daisy and I finally returned home after a two hour outing. The panting dogs settled in the shade of a large azalea by the back door. I'm sending this out to you, and then plan to head back outside. Oh, what a day!

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