Monday, April 16, 2007

Trout lily X 4

Another find from the brookside trail. I walked past these at least twice before I noticed them, and then I saw patches of them everywhere - most weren't blooming yet; only their purplish-spotted green leaves gave away their presence. Ther'ye tiny things and easy to miss at about six inches high.

I'm trying to teach myself wildflowers, and it seems half the exercise is in finding them, never mind identifying them! I have to get my head out of the clouds and my eyes off the treetops and look down at my feet for a new perspective on the natural world.

The few wildflowers that I recognize I know only from books and I'm finding the wildflower ID guides to be fairly useless this early in the learning process. Reminds me of what it felt like when I was first learning to identify birds - the field guide only confuses and frustrates. I'm having better success with with a few books by Hal Borland. Who else? One, A Countryman's Flowers with photographs by Les Line, was a gift from my father a few years ago. I'm sure it's out of print, but you might find it online with some searching. What I like about it, in addition to the photographs, is that the flowers are grouped by habitat, helping a beginner like me to know what flowers to expect where. Of course a standard wildflower ID guide includes that info, but it's buried with all the other confusing stuff that makes my eyes glaze over. The categories are basic - the dooryard, the roadside, the old pasture, and brookside and bog and the book only includes 85 species, but I figure that's enough for someone just starting out. The book also features Borland's delightful essays; one for each species and includes info on growth and flowering habits as well as a bit of folklore. Of the trout lily, he writes:
"If you don't know this flower by this name, try dogtooth violet, or yellow adder's tongue, or fawn lily... The names trout lily and fawn lily come from its time of blooming - late April and May, when trout are biting in the brooks and when does are dropping their fawns in the woodland... Dogtooth violets mean May Day to me. As a small boy I gathered them for my May baskets, simply because they were one of the few flowers that always were in bloom by then."
This book is almost as good as having someone along with me, teaching and telling stories. Does anyone make May Day baskets anymore?
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Now that I've finished ruminating on trout lilies (lol!) I'm off to finally finish up my income taxes. All that's left to do is recopy them in nice handwriting and make photocopies, and stuff the envelopes. Think I might've waited a bit longer?
My husband is off with a fireman friend evacuating nursing home residents in another part of the state. Here on the coast there hasn't been any significant flooding, but inland to the west is another story. I'm proud of my DH for doing this. I guess we all have our sense of duty - me to the IRS and him to something a bit more valiant.

15 comments:

KGMom said...

I love the photos of these delicate looking flowers.
Talk about going from sublime to ridiculous--from lilies to taxes. But we all owe. We have switched over to using Turbotax so all the writing and computing is done for us. My husband is absolutely sold on this.
Good for your husband--a true civic servant.

Lynne said...

Beautiful trout lilies! Ours are a while off yet. I started last srping trying to catalog the wildflowers at Hasty Brook. It's been kind of a fun project and I can't wait to add to it this year.

Liza Lee Miller said...

Your trout lily photos are beyond lovely. I hear what you are saying about learning about wildflowers. The information is hard to come by and hard to process. Of course, I'm still working on sparrows and shorebirds! :)

Mary said...

They are beautiful. When I browse a nursery, 7 times out of 10, I need to check the tag for IDs on wild flowers and perrenials. I've never been knowledgeable about flowers but I love them.

Hey, you still have tomorrow to get that envelope in the mail! LOL! We love Turbotax! Unfortuntely for us, we paid a good bit this year.

I admire your DH for her dedication. He's an angel.

MojoMan said...

After learning about him from your blog, I read and enjoyed one of Hal Borland's books. I didn't know he had a field guide! I know exactly what you mean about how confusing a regular guide can be when you don't know where to start. I'll have to look for Borland's.

mon@rch said...

Trout Lillies are great flowers to start learning from! I spent one whole summer working on the wildflowers and of course the spring is the best time for the flowers! Good luck and love your photos!

Susan Gets Native said...

Lovely lilies.
Sucky taxes.
Being self-employed, Geoff and I always pay A LOT of taxes. A LOT. And with him being a freelance writer, sometimes people don't pay him the way they promised and we are always behind and always stressed and can never save any thing. So when tax time comes around, we want to curl up and hide in a hole.
Sigh. Okay, I feel better.

I want a field guide for flowers this year. Remember last year, I would always just ask you what it was?
:)

z said...

Lovely little lillies. Yes we know them as Dogtooth Violets.
Up where I used to live. There were Fairy Bells and Yellow Bells.

maggie said...

Trout lilly very sweet and delicate. I am very very bad with names myself and should follow your cue.

Body Soul Spirit said...

What a lovely set of photos, arranged so artfully. I have been reading the Burgess Flower Book for Children. Talk about basic starts! So far I have seen a skunk cabbage flower and coltsfoot, an introduced weed. The yellow flower was pretty, especially for winter weary eyes!
Ruth

Cathy said...

Laura! That's precisely my problem this time of year. How can I bird and do wildflowers and mushrooms at the same time? When I'm looking down I keep my ears tuned for unusual warbler song. What a great problem - too much beauty all at once :0)
The photos are exquisite.

Sandy said...

This is a pretty flower I don't think we have close by. I will be looking for it though. I really enjoy wildflower hunting, don't you?

A Girl From Texas said...

It appears that the pistil and stamen are growing downward towards the ground. Sort of like cyclamen. I'm always curious about this type of flower because I wonder what sort of critter it is trying to cater to in order for pollination.

Cindy said...

oooooo, one of my favorite wildflowers! there's an area north of me where a colony grows for miles and miles.. endless trout lilies as far as the eye can see.. I can't wait!
The book sounds interesting too- I'd always heard they're named for their leaves, which resemble the coloration of a trout. Guess I'll have to look for the book ;)

Mark said...

These should be coming up in my woods soon. You did a great series on this flower, showing all of its character.