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Billie Sue Graybeal: Spring puts on an amazing show

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Spring is here! Everywhere I turn I can see the beauty of this wonderful season.

Outside my dining room window, I watched a robin busily building a nest and then shaking its feathers after a brief dip in the birdbath. Pink and white dogwood trees are beginning to bloom, and the yard is ablaze with red, pink and purple azaleas. The irises and roses are budding and promise many colorful days to come. Even the pansies with their tiny "faces" seem to be brighter yellow, white and purple this year.

My new winesap apple tree, just planted, is blooming and I am looking forward to the first apple. The garden plants are already heralding an early harvest as peas, radishes, carrots, lettuce, onions and potatoes are all peeking through the ground. The small patch of strawberries so carefully planted and covered with straw last October are blooming, so I know they survived the cold weather.

My friend Debbie and I enjoy walking the half-mile trail (old handicapped trail) in St. Albans City Park. Last Sunday, the usual 30-minute walk turned into an hour-long walk in the park. The woods are alive and Mother Nature never fails to amaze me.

As we began the slight descent onto the trail, a crow monotonously announced our approach. All along the trail, wildflowers are popping up, and we started counting the ones we saw. It is an oft-repeated game we play to see which one of us "finds" the most flowers. The early wildflowers are abundant and we quickly identified several varieties: jack in the pulpit, star chickweed, cut leaf toothwort, bluet, mayapple, golden ragwort, buttercup, blue violets, and the pretty, large-flowering trillium.

A couple of "new" finds for me were the toadshade trillium, with its mottled leaves, and the showy, yellow-flowered trout lily. I have seen the leaves of the trout lily many times, but never the beautiful yellow bloom. The Carolina spring beauty is out, and many shades of pink and deep red adorn what appear to be this year's larger blooms.

The day's tally of wildflower "finds" was 24! We will visit again soon as each day will provide even more opportunities to see additional varieties.

Farther along the trail, just past the covered bridge, we saw a patch of Dutchman's breeches. The trail at St. Albans Park is the only place I have ever seen the little white and gold "breeches," the first time nearly 10 years ago. An area just off the trail is covered with Virginia bluebells and beautiful golden celandine poppies.

The loud call of a pileated woodpecker pierced the silence and a barred owl's "who who" was a pleasant morning surprise. Water was running along the creek bed and splashing over the rocks and tree branches. It's such a peaceful sound.

You do not have to go far from your own front door to enjoy the beauty of the world around you. A brief walk in the park will provide just the right venue. I suppose we're all just so weary from winter that all of the events so common in springtime are just a most welcome sight.

The sun was peeking through the trees as we started the slight climb toward the parking lot. The day promised to be a good one. It was!

Billie Sue Graybeal lives in St. Albans.


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