Friday, March 30, 2012

These Beauties of Spring

 I'm rewarded for my troubles, not with morels, which were the reason for my spending time in the woods, but with the blanket of spring beauties (Claytonia viginica) that hug the soil. They're tiny flowers - no more than half an inch across - and they come in a variety of whites and pinks. A few have veins of deep pink, almost the color of creme soda.

 I think of these minuscule plants, grown from tubers buried just beneath the soil, buried all summer in weeds, often deep under winter snows, and yet each spring they reach for the sky again, as muted as the light is through the burgeoning trees. And yet they never give up trying.

A member of the Purslane family, these are as delicate a flower as I think possible. They can barely be touched without damage. And so I don't, except with a camera, year after year.

 I understand they are edible but who would trouble themselves with something so tiny? A single tuber might have the volume of a sunflower kernel. Surely if the Indians ate these, it was an act of desperation?

 Conditions seem ripe for mushrooms. The ground is wet after the night's rain and the temperature is already a balmy 64°. What are the morels waiting for? I understand they're being found in Michigan, weeks ahead of schedule. I have not had a chance to look before today but I spent some good time amid the chirping birds and the majesty of these tiny flowers. But that is all I came home with.

 I'll wait a week or so. Surely the morels will be early this year. Or will they be not at all?

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