Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Bleeding heart. Lainey Piland photo

Summer seems to have made an early arrival this year although we're still slightly over a week away, by the calendar. If the absurdly hot and dry Washington weather (90 degrees already?!?) isn't enough to convince us that summer is knocking on our door, then taking a stroll through a local park or forest will provide further evidence.

I took a walk through the woods last weekend and found it already transformed by the approaching summer season. I left with my socks and shoes powdered with dust after shuffling through the dry duff and crunchy pine needles now covering the trail in place of the springtime muddiness. The air was hot and heavy with the humid breaths of trees and plants baking in the sun. Once-tender licorice fern now hung limply from the mossy trunks of maple trees; their dried leaves contracted and curled inward. Those first blooming forest flowers of spring are wilting away; bleeding heart have faded to an anemic shade of lavender, and trillium are nothing more than clusters of enormous green leaves suspended at knee-height above the forest floor. Salmonberry thickets that were only weeks ago riots of vibrant fuchsia flowers now hang heavy with berries quietly ripening beneath their green leaves. Nothing says summertime like the sight (or taste) of berries!

Giant trillium, their flowers long gone. Lainey Piland photo

This year, winter in the Pacific Northwest was nonexistent, spring came and left early, and now summer seems to have us in her grips already. Whereas the previous seasons have been fleeting, I have a feeling this hot, dry, drought-ridden summer will feel very long.

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