Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Coltsfoot and Other Insanities

If you want a better indication of how late this spring is arriving, today’s photo is it. This is coltsfoot, which is typically the first wildflower to appear each year. In fact, this flower is so anxious to bloom that it blooms before its leaves appear. As you can see in this photo, the plant is not yet (quite) blooming as the flowers haven’t opened up yet.

It is not uncommon for me to first see a blooming coltsfoot around the first week of April. I wouldn’t be surprised, in some years, to find it before the end of March. I have also seen it in bloom when patches of snow were still around. But this year, today will be its blooming day. It is no exaggeration to say that it is blooming about 3 weeks later than usual.

The coltsfoot, as I have only just found out to my dismay, is not native to North America but to Europe, where it was used to treat asthma and colds, usually in a tea sweetened with lemon. It is also, apparently, smoked in a pipe to treat asthma, which to a modern sensibility seems like a contradiction in terms.

Spring continues its slow progress, though the speed of the season is beginning to increase. Last night, as I drove past the old snowmaking pond, several tree swallows skimmed along its surface—another first of the year!
And this morning, for at least several seconds, I was briefly convinced I’d overslept. Dog and I were walking along one of the ponds when I saw brightness in the east and was momentarily blinded. The sun! If the sun was up, it could only mean that I was late for work because when Dog and I walk it is still dark. In fact, it was dead dark only yesterday on our walk, and it doesn’t go from dark to sunny in one day when we walk at the same time each morning, so…Oh, wait. The sky is clear this morning. The sun is supposed to be rising now. It’s only because it’s been so flippin’ overcast for the past two weeks that I couldn’t see morning was rising to greet us on our walks. Okay, so I’m not late. Deep breath.

1 comment:

pablo said...

I've noticed that same sunrise phenomenon on my morning walks, though I am out every other morning rather than each day.