Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Vernal Equinox! (a.k.a. 1st Day of Spring!)

Woo hoo, we survived winter! Happy 1st day of spring! What a glorious day it was here --- sunny, temperature in the low 70's and just a tad bit breezy. Kenny and I went to Norris Dam State Park, about 25 miles from Oak Ridge. There were people everywhere, even IN the river! Can you see 9 people in this photo? This just shows a small number of the fishermen who were taking advantage of the low water below the dam. We hiked on the Bluff Trail below the dam and I ran into one of my wildflower friends, Mika, who is even more enthusiastic than I am about wildflowers! I had to laugh when I learned later from a friend of hers on Facebook that her husband was one of the fishermen. When Mika and I got excited about something we saw (a pretty wildflower or cool fungus), he said the fishermen could hear every word we said! :-0 One of the other nice aspects of hiking is getting to meet nice folks, we met several people on the trail today and enjoyed talking to each one of them. I was surprised that two people knew who I was because they had been on my website! :)

Since we had such a hard, cold winter, a lot of the wildflowers I expected to see were not yet in bloom. But a few of the really early bloomers were, some of the flowers we saw included: the tiny Harbinger of Spring (right), Sharp-lobed Hepatica (left), Toothwort, Carolina Spring Beauty (center), Bloodroot (left), and Spicebush.

But the most amazing thing I saw today was the beautiful Scarlet Cup fungus. I got quite a surprise when I tried to gently blow a piece of dead leaf out of the cup before I photographed it. Seconds after I puffed into the fungus, it puffed back!!! Actually, it suddenly gave off a little cloud of spores! I had not touched it with my hands or a stick, just my breath. I'm assuming that it may give off its spores when the wind blows on it. Later when Mika saw this happen, she squealed with delight! I'm sure the fishermen got quite a kick out of that!

Even tree leaf buds can be interesting to observe. I noticed this pretty pink Buckeye bud just getting ready to open.

Anyone who has followed this blog in the past knows how much I like spiders! So, I was happy when I saw a tiny spider on a Bloodroot flower today! It was a little male (you can tell by his round pedipalps). I won't go into what they are for since this is a family-friendly blog! ;) The little black objects are beetles. We saw them on Hepatica flowers too. I can't wait to go out on the trail again! Keep checking back for wildflower bloom updates!

1 comment:

mika said...

It turned out to be a fantabulous day thanks to you! That fungus was so interesting! Did you get a picture with smoke?