As the ground begins to turn different shades of green, the earliest wildflowers begin to appear. The bright white faces of Bloodroot flowers are one of the first to peek up between the bland colored, dry leaves and grasses. After being asleep through the cold winter months, they let us know that it's their season to rise.
Within another couple days, the stalks of Dutchman's Breeches also appear here and there on the forest floor. Their tiny flowers really do resemble a pair of pants that a cricket might wear. By the end of the week, there were other tiny flowers peeking up from the rich soil of the woods. The little pale blue flowers of the anemone and hepatica are very small and close to the ground, but they grow gathered in patches to create a beautiful and colorful spring show. The dark green leaves of the Bluebells that were just poking through the ground a week ago, are already a foot tall, and their lavender blue flower buds are already developing.
The area's trees too are beginning to show they are alive by putting out large, green leaf buds, which double their size each day. The oak, ash, basswood and elm trees won't leaf out for a couple of weeks yet, but the early trees, like Sugar maples, Red maples and soft maples will soon join the willows and Box elders in adding their green to the forest landscape.
The Kickapoo Valley is coming alive more and more with each passing day. Still more new summer birds show up with every sunrise. This morning I was greeted by the warbling songs of the first little House wrens. For me, these are proof that this spring is about two weeks ahead of schedule. The wrens usually don't come back until they know it's safely warm enough, and normally they show up around the first of May. So I was kind of surprised to hear them already, and I quickly hung out a couple more of my homemade gourd bird houses.
The next morning I heard the familiar songs of "Old man pea-body, pea-body, peabody," as a couple of white-throated sparrows sang their lovely songs from the edge of the woods. When I stepped out on the porch to see if I could spot them, I noticed a few tree swallows flying low over the creek, hunting for flying insects. They are the first of the swallows to return each spring, and they seem to be a few weeks late, so it is nice to see them again.
Thursday's sun brought the many different songs of a Brown thrasher, who hid among the branches in a brush pile I had made. I knew that his counterpart, the Catbird, would also soon show up in the yard. These birds are both masters of the art of mimic, and repeat the songs of other birds at will.
It's an exciting time to be outside, as each day brings new spring surprises. The fresh new sights, sounds and smells will open your heart to the real world, and welcome you to become a spiritual part of this living earth. For me, each day is another mother earth day.
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