My youngest daughter, whom has just spent the last 10 years of her life in Colorado before moving back to Missouri last summer lamented, "I cannot believe I used to live in Missouri – and liked it! I cannot stand this cold weather"!
I reminded her ever so gently that Colorado is so much colder and has a lot more snow. "I know, I know," her pitch increasing, "but, at least in Colorado when it is cold the sun is shining and you can see the blue sky. It feels so bright and cheery, nothing like these dark gray, gloomy days in Missouri (and Kansas)"!
I had to admit, we do seem to have a lot of gray days in-between the blue-sky days and winter can seem to drag on endlessly.
For me, I always try to look to nature for the changes to see what is happening next; to anticipate the old familiar signs for the arrival of a new season. Over the past 10 days, even though the temperatures remain below freezing at night and not much above that during the day; with snow flurries off and on for days and even a snow storm or two, the hint of spring whispered in. The grass is tinged with early green and the buds on the trees are beginning to swell.
The spring ephemeral flowers are beginning to emerge in the forest. Many interpret the word, ephemeral to mean first, early, or even short-lived, it literally means, "lasting only one day." (This confirmed by several dictionaries including, Merriam-Webster, The Reference Dictionary, The Free Dictionary, Your Dictionary and others.)
In the forest, spring ephemerals include the dainty five-petal "daisy-type" flower, Spring Beauty. The entire flower head is no larger than half an inch.
One of my all-time favorites is Dutchman's breeches with what appears to be a long stem forming a clothesline of pale pink-puffed pantaloons hanging upside down to dry. Simply spectacular! Then, the elegant trout lily, also named dog-toothed violet. Neither name gives justice to this tender white flower with a nodding head and speckled leaves (colored much like the side of a rainbow trout).
These are just a few of the spring beauties that may be some of my favorite flowers. Perhaps, it is because they are so short-lasting and you have to be watchful to catch them. They bloom only until the leaves in the tree canopy above grow thick enough to blot out the sun.
Niether Missouri nor Kansas are Colorado, but under thick clouds and gloomy days flower jewels are making ready to peek out from the leaves on the forest floor. There are so many beautiful things to see and do right here at home.
The trees, birds, wildlife, and wild flowers bring beauty to us year round – we just need to take the time to relax and visit some of the wild spaces nearby to enjoy them.
Page 2 of 2 - Lynn Youngblood is a Kansas City-based naturalist who writes for Gatehouse Media.