Monday, May 12, 2014

Where the Blue Bells bloom

It was a surprise that we made it into the woods at all Sunday afternoon, after Mary Ellen's annual Mother's Day lunch for orphans (some left parentless by time, others separated by geography). 

West Lucas County and northwest Wayne were included in a tornado warning not long after I left Chariton, so it was a relief to turn south at the Cambria Cemetery 15 minutes later rather than keep driving toward those angry clouds.

As it turned out, only light showers fell not too far northwest of Corydon, the weather system moved on and by 2 p.m. the sun was shining, so we headed for a nearby stand of timber on a west-facing slope that descends to the south fork of the Chariton River.

The spring ephemerals are nearing the end of their seasons, but the floor of the upper woodlands still was blanketed and I found what I was looking for --- several colonies of Virginia Blue Bells (Mertensia virginica). 

Many of the varieties I've found elsewhere this spring were in full bloom, too, but the display of Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) here was especially widespread.

Down on the bottom, approaching a feeder creek and then the little river itself, Early Buttercups (Ranunculus fascicularis) were were sparkling in the grass. They prefer wet feet.

Jane, Jan and I finally made it to the banks of the South Chariton, looking benign Sunday afternoon but capable after heavy rains of overflowing its banks and flooding the bottoms. Getting there was another of my goals.

Dale Clark, Jane and others tell me that the South Chariton is the only stream in Wayne County that runs year-around. It eventually twists and turns down to Promise City, supplemented by smaller creeks, then after a few more miles joins the main branch of the Chariton in what now are the backwaters of Rathbun Lake.

The only mildly disappointed trekker Sunday afternoon was Mary Ellen, who had willed that there be morels in this patch of timber. There weren't.

I came home after an exceptional lunch and a good walk with a few more wildflower photos and a big bunch of asparagus fresh from Jane's garden --- nothing to be disappointed about here.

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