Thursday, May 28, 2009


images from Robert H Treman State Park

In the morning, I was awoken by loud and diverse birdsong in the trees surrounding the tent. I heard some bird calls I'm not familiar with, either early spring mating calls from birds I know, or birds I simply don't know. This year as well as the past two years there's been an explosion in the robin population in my part of the Midwest; I've never seen so many robins as I have this year, and I hear them calling sometimes very early in the pre-dawn, through my open window.

After I made breakfast, bacon and eggs, I packed up camp and got out the cameras to explore a little while before moving on. the hillside behind my campsite was just covered with trillium in bloom.

I grew up in Michigan, where trillium is a protected wildflower, prevented from being picked or moved. So my instincts are to honor trillium wherever I find it, to protect it, never pick it, and treat it as iconic. I gather the trillium is the official state flower of Ohio and the province of Ontario. The state flower of Michigan is the apple blossom. There is a rare and endangered species of painted trillium in Michigan's Lower Peninsula that only found there.

The truth is, trillium is a beautiful, unique flowering herbaceous wild plant. The trefoil design of overlapping triangles has a beautiful mathematical elegance and symmetry. There are circa 50 species of trillium in temperate North America; the species seen here, the most common in the Northeast USA is trillium grandiflorum, with its large white flowers standing out against the forest floor. Grandiflorum is also the most common trillium species in Michigan, and is what I remember seeing on spring forest hikes as a boy. In spring, sometimes you can see a carpet of trillium on the forest floor, like white snow on the brown decaying leaffall under the trees.

It was good to spend the first part of my day with this beautiful flower, in this setting. The day begins in beauty. Yet one more reason why I find the Finger Lakes region so attractive.

ghosts ascending
the hillside

snow-elegant signs
of woodland spring:
trillium blooms

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