Friday, June 27, 2008

North Park Hikers--38 years and growing

Yesterday I had the wonderful pleasure of returning to my roots: walking with the Thursday morning nature group at North Park in Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh, PA. I used to hike with them back in the '70s when I still lived in that area. It was like turning back the clock. My wildflower email friend Dianne brought my old buddy Esther from those early days and, along with about a dozen other "newbies," we walked the old Braille Trail. We saw many wildflowers, some of which are accompanying this article.

Indian Cucumber-root, dead man's fingers, Indian pipe, rose moss, as
well as too many to mention (some in bloom, some not). Esther, who is now 90, still trots along the trail like a 40-year-old! Her vast knowledge of wildflowers, mosses, fungi and general nature bubbles forth as she points out various stages of plant life along the roadside and trail. Rose moss has a rather straight and boring growth habit until the rain hits it, when the tips fluff open into rose-like "blossoms." Dead man's fingers, a fungus that appears like blackened fingers reaching up from the grave, start out as little white threads.

Our walk was highlighted by the birdsong: the melodious Wood Thrush, the pan flute-like song of the Veery, Bobwhites whistling, and the twittering of many swallows.

What a great day it was!

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