Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blooming bloodroot and other ephemera

 ...Is here and gone already. Bloodroot is not quite a one-day wonder. It’s more like a 36 hour wonder. I don’t think it’s ever made it a full 48 hours. That’s about as ephemeral as it gets, at least here on Roundtop. One full day, never quite two, out of 365 days in the year is all you can expect to see this pretty little flower. It will be 363 days before it comes around again. It kind of gives a real meaning to the phrase “having a day in the sun.”

Gone again for another year.

I had 10-12 of the little blooms at the edge of my forest. Unlike the dog-toothed violets that may bloom successively over a week or so, all the bloodroot flowers bloom on the same day. This year, heavy rain on Saturday knocked down a few of the buds, so I ended up with fewer blooms on Sunday than I might have. Life is tough on these little flowers.


Gone already, the petals drop one by one and then the flower heads go to seed immediately. It seems kind of sad to me, such a short time in the sun—all that effort for one little day. A short time blooming and a long time gone. And who knows what the next year will bring? The spot where these blooms appear is a small one, a strip of earth perhaps 6 feet long and no more than 2 feet wide. Some year, after I’ve gone, if someone widens the car parking spot by even a foot, they will be gone. As it is, I have to take care not to back the car too wide and overshoot my parking area. I came within 6 inches of crushing one plant when I backed into the spot earlier this week.

I often wonder how frequently such things we humans carelessly and mindlessly destroy. Someone builds a new house and never learns what grew there before the house was built. Perhaps it was a tree where pileated woodpeckers had nested for years. Perhaps it was a patch of lady slippers. For all I know when my cabin was built 40 years ago, perhaps all but a few bloodroot, those few that now hang on next to my car park, were destroyed.

It’s a sobering thought that we know so little about the land’s inhabitants, both flora and fauna, before we destroy the landscape to build something we think is important. Sometimes I wish that we’d consider the lives that lived before we came onto the land a little more. Do we really need a 4000 sq. ft. house when a 1000 sq. ft house would do (and save more of the land)? Could we simply change the location of our driveway to protect that patch of lady slippers? Of course, that would mean knowing our land before we build on it. I wish that wasn’t too much to ask.


Scott said...

When I see construction going on during the winter, I wonder how many groundhogs were buried alive by the heavy machinery.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any Rue-anemone in your woods? Also called Meadowrue. My patch has really been putting on a blooming show this year.