|Wild Blue Phlox|
I think most of us look forward to spring after a cold,
dark, and snowy winter. Even though our “real” winter weather only lasted for a
couple of months this year, we had a wide variety of precipitation forms packed
into that time period. I was happy that when the snow and ice started to melt,
spring seemed to be on its way.
With spring comes a time of rebirth, regeneration, and rejuvenation.
In addition to the grass greening up, trees blooming and budding, and some
feathered friends returning, I enjoy taking hikes in the woods to view spring
woodland wildflowers. This spring at least one of my two daughters, along with
our two dogs, took a weekly woodland hike. While my daughters and dogs walked, I
spent the time crouched on the ground—or even lying on the ground when it wasn’t
too wet—getting up-close and personal and snapping pictures of wildflowers.
From the first Snowy Trilliums to the Wild Columbines currently blooming, I took dozens—actually hundreds--of pictures. The children and dogs
would wait for me to catch up, wondering what had taken me so long.
|Smooth Yellow Violet|
One day we even got caught in a thunderstorm. What
started out as a few sprinkles turned into a drenching downpour. As I climbed
the steep, muddy, and slippery hill to the final part of the trail, where my
daughters and dogs were waiting, my older daughter’s eyes widened in surprise
at my appearance. Apparently, I looked a little rough around the edges, with a
crazy look in my eyes, raindrops dripping off the edge of my nose, my wild hair
sticking out from my hooded sweatshirt, drenched to the bone, and my clothes
totally splattered with mud, especially the knees of my soaked sweats, that were
smeared with mud.
I have to say, the Dutchman’s Breeches photos I took that
day were pretty neat, despite the challenge of trying to keep my lens from
fogging up or getting wet, not to mention getting myself too wet. I think I
failed in that respect, but it was well worth it. The girls, dogs, and I all had
a great time, even if my car smelled of wet dog for the drive home and probably
a few days after.
Some may wonder why I continue to take photos of plants I’ve
been photographing for over twenty-five years. The only reason I can find is, I
can’t seem to resist! Seriously, hiking in the woods is a peaceful
experience for me and helps to relieve stress. When you factor in taking
photographs of beautiful plants that only bloom for a short time period, the
peaceful feeling increases. From the practical perspective, I use the photos for
educational and promotional purposes for the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk books and Nature Station Mysteries I write, and also use them in my job as
Resource Conservationist at
the Stark County SWCD.
It’s amazing to me how the same flowers I see every year manage
to look even more interesting and beautiful every year. Maybe it’s because
after all this time, I still notice brand new details or even discover new-to-me
wildflower species. Different angles, different lighting, and the novelty of
not seeming these lovely plants all the time, make them great photo opportunities,
year after year. I like to think my photography skills improve a little over
time, so I really need to take time to weed out some of my older pictures.
Even though we don’t often think of Illinois as being the
most scenic spot on earth, we do have some beautiful areas and some unique
plant species. I use the pictures to try to show others how interesting these
pretty wildflowers are.
I hope you enjoy this virtual walk in the woods.