Even though the nights are still cold, I knew spring had arrived in Roan Mountain about a week ago. Early one morning, through a gentle rain, I could hear the song of the corn planter, more commonly known as the woodthrush.
Corn planter, you might say? Many years ago, a dear friend in her 80′s, shared the important message the corn planter was sending - a logical message at that – when you hear the first song, it was safe to plant your corn. Hence, the name of the bird; a bird she fondly listened for each year, and a memory I will never forget.
For me, spring became official today. A quiet hike on the Cate’s Hole Trail in Roan Mountain State Park became a tour of color and beauty. To say the mountainside was lush, would be an understatement! The forest floor was a soft spring green carpet of new plant growth, topped with purples, reds, whites, and yellows.
Highlights of the trip included purple Delphinium, Trilliums, Mayapple, White Fringed Phacelia, Yellow Violets, Foamflower, and Miterwort. The fern-like leaves of Dutchman’s Breeches and Squirrel Corn covered the ground beneath the blooming species.
A special find was the rare Fraser’s Sedge (Cymophyllus fraserianus), a species of Special Concern in the State of Tennessee. Botanist and Naturalist, Ed Schell had shown me the location for this small area of plants nearly 20 years ago. Happily, it is still thriving and hopefully will continue to for years to come!
If this little journey has tickled your fancy, you might want to check out the 55th annual Roan Mountain Spring Naturalist’s Rally next weekend – May 3 – 5! Sponsored by the Friends of Roan Mountain, the rally offers a fantastic weekend of guest speakers, hands-on activities, hikes, and tours led by knowledgeable leaders. Information can be found at www.friendsofroanmtn.org