One Flower and a Bee *

Yellow trout lily--note the fish-speckled leaves that give it its name

I can hardly complain. I look forward to this bud-busting green-gold time of year so much, that it would come a few weeks early has been a joy.

I just wonder what price we will pay come summer. Already, the ticks are terrible. We’ve never had mosquitoes on Goose Creek, partly for lack of standing water on land pitched as we are, and partly because our winters in this microhabitat are more severe than up top on Floyd’s more typical sunny plateau. I haven’t seen a skeeter yet, but I won’t be shocked when I find myself slapping at the side of my neck while basking in warm shade from the front porch swing.

Ah well. That the trout lilies are blooming even before the spicebush has peaked or the Mayapple emerged is a biochronological fact I’ll just accept. I’ll also be on the lookout for morel mushrooms well before April 25, which is our usual alert date for these elusive shrooms.

To get this shot with the iPhone, I felt like a petty bandit, waiting until the store owner (that would be Gandy) wasn’t looking to drop to my knees, grab the shot, hide it in my camera, and jump back up before she would certainly notice and make a big scene. * Forget the reverie. I got the shot, and I’m not givin’ it back.

Note the tiny solitary (versus hive building) bee who doesn’t yet have a lot of pollens to chose from, and won’t get much from the trout lilies, where only the older plants with TWO mottled leaves produce flowers. Once, before the multiple loggings this land has endured, I am certain there were far more wildflowers of every variety we see today in tiny, remnant patches along the gorge of Nameless Creek. This quote about a similar but undisturbed setting says it well. Source with nice images

“Spring ephemerals being what they are, the wildflowers of the finger ravine will soon be retreating underground. If we are fortunate, we will see them next year, in another spring, after a time long to us, but–given their age–perhaps brief to them. Their presence is a marker: a sign of a high-quality and relatively untouched habitat. It is also a reminder: a remnant, a trace, a vestige of a truly native, increasingly rare, and–some might say–sacred landscape. These spring ephemerals and their ravine home are, in the deepest sense, a living memory.”

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I, like most people, also love this time of year. The flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom here and it is so gorgeous I feel blessed to see it every spring.

    I worked in the flower shop yesterday, and just after spraying the spathe lily plants with something to make their leaves shine, I saw tiny white specks on the leaves. I thought at first it was some sort of bug infestation, but a closer look showed me it was pollen. I can’t escape it – indoors or out. lol

  2. Fred- Your trout lily/bee photo is amazing. The beauty of spring, precisely–when we’re astonished by everything coming alive again, as if it’s a surprise, and all we can’t get enough of zooming in on nature’s wondrous moments. I took an iPhone shot of a daffodil, of which I wrote about not long ago. And then, a crocus showed itself, with a bee humming above, and I couldn’t wait to freeze that visual. This week, it was a magnolia. Seems I can’t stop photographing and writing about these moments.

    Have you read Francis Ponge? Boy, did he study the bees. And so much more. Spring is magic. 🙂

    (Morel mushrooms. Lucky dog. I look forward to seeing those pics.)

  3. Definitely keep your eyes open for the morels, Fred. My husband just found some this morning at our place near Meadows of Dan!