Wednesday, June 13, 2012

After the rain

Ironweed or wild butterfly weed
Yesterday I was supposed to lead my first outdoor awareness session of the summer with kids from the neighboring adventure camp. Instead, it rained buckets all day long, and the camp director wisely decided the kids wouldn’t have a great experience hiking down to the stream. It rained so hard that I got soaked even in my tried-and-true backpacking rain jacket for just the few minutes I took the dogs outside. It wasn’t only the kids who wouldn’t have had a lot of fun in that kind of weather!

Each summer I take the kids down to a little stream and teach them how to catch crayfish, frogs and salamanders. Last year they also routinely found a lovely old wood tortoise who didn’t seem to mind one bit being handled by a lot of kids. That tortoise was a big hit. The whole point is for the kids to enjoy themselves outdoors and experience a little bit of what goes on beyond their video game consoles. It would be nice to think that the experience whets their little appetites for more such experiences. That’s probably wishful thinking on my part, but I do what I can in the short amount of time I have with them to broaden their horizons a bit.

Anyway, yesterday the hike and critter-catching session was cancelled. I’m sure the critters were hiding from the weather, too. This morning the sky was crystal clear. Except for the leftover puddles, I couldn’t have guessed that the day before was such a washout.

Ironweed, or wild butterfly weed, is just starting to bloom along the forest edges, I noticed. The leaves and tiny flowers on this one still carry the drops of yesterday’s rain. Do I call every flower I photograph my favorite? I think I do, and when I am photographing one that one is my favorite. I know I particularly appreciate the pink-purple shade of ironweed and its showy size. If I do have a flower preference it’s for anything of strong color and good size. I’m not a huge fan of teeny, tiny little flowers. I like something with a strong sense of its own importance. Ironweed is one of those.


Grizz………… said...

Wow! That seems really early for ironweed. Are we talking the same plants here? I always think of our ironweeds, various species of Vernonia, as very late summer harbinger-of-fall bloomers, and never expect them before August.

Carolyn H said...

Grizz: No, this isn't that ironweed. I think this one is related to milkweed. In this area this plant is mostly called wild butterfly bush, but people from other areas seem to know it as ironweed. I've always heard it called the wild butterfly bush, but it's not really a bush either. It's pretty! I do know that much!