Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trailside in June on the Tanbark

What do we see when we walk in the woods? Trees? Rocks? Lakes and streams? All those spectacular segments of the scenery we enjoy so much during our hikes and floats. And of course those endearing and colorful blooming wildflowers that we all love so. But when the spring wildflowers drop their petals and the woodland turns back to varying shades of dappled green, what is there to see?

More wildflowers, that’s what! Although the color has shifted to the fields and roadsides, we can still see wildflowers in the woodlands. I took a walk on the Tanbark Trail in the Allegheny National Forest with friends and was thrilled to notice the advancing progress of the wildflowers. Now that they are done blooming, the real work begins. Petals drop and the pollen is sending its tiny tubes from the stigma through the style to those precious eggs in the ovary. Ovaries begin to swell as the eggs develop, and future berries, nuts and seedheads begin to take form.

So among the hues of green and the dapples of sunlight lies the miracle of life.

Clintonia, goldthread, trillium, starflower, Indian cucumber-root, Canada Mayflower, bunchberry, blueberries, orchids, Solomon’s seal: all the resplendent May bouquets are fulfilling their destiny as others begin the journey: emerging Indian pipe and mountain laurel begin their blossoming amid seedling maples and oaks. See how many you can pick out in the photos. (And notice the green-ghostly presence overseeing the pallid Indian pipes.)