A Walk in the Woods in Early May

This is the time of year when everything feels like it’s fully coming alive after a long, cold winter here in zone 4. The birds have been thoroughly enjoying our feeders; most days, we see a mix of cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, juncos, mourning doves, red-winged blackbirds, and starlings, and of course there are robins busily inspecting our garden beds and mulch and compost piles. Every time we do a bit of digging, we can count on the robins appearing shortly after to investigate for any upturned treats.

Turkeys have also seemed to make our land part of their daily jaunts through the neighborhood. More mornings than not, I can see several out the kitchen window, wandering, across our hilly meadow.

The weather was beautiful this weekend, so I did quite a bit of gardening and also took the opportunity to enjoy a nice spring walk in the woods toward the back of our property. Our two youngest kids decided to come along, and we spent quite a bit of time exploring. This time of year, the forest floor is green with new growth, speckled with the delicate blooms of spring ephemerals.

We harvested some ramps to enjoy with the eggs we’d be having with breakfast on Sunday morning, and I was thrilled to find several elderberries and nice, healthy patches of nettle. It’s so easy to overlook these plants when the woods are green and flush with growth, but now that I know they’re there, I can forage a bit throughout the spring and summer.

The tiny pink and white blossoms of Spring Beauty are fading, but the trilliums and trout lilies are about to put on their spring show. I’ll have to go back in a day or two to capture them in their full glory.

Aside from that, right now the pin cherries and violets are blooming, along with dandelions. I will be harvesting some of the violet and dandelion blossoms today to turn into salves, as well as some violets to press for craft projects.

I love this time of year. The promise of a new growing season, the feel of the earth seeming to come to life again after its long hibernation. Grass and new leaves stretch into the cool, damp air, and I feel myself stretching along with them, expanding, excited for the season to come.

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