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Billie Sue Graybeal: Spring's beauties aren't far away

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 her feathers after a brief dip in a birdbath. Pink and white dogwood trees are blooming and the yard is ablaze with red, pink and purple azaleas. The irises and roses are budding and promise many colorful days to come.

The garden plants are already heralding an early harvest as beets, lettuce, onions, potatoes, broccoli and cabbage are all peeking through the ground. The small patch of strawberries, so carefully planted and covered with straw last October, is blooming, so I know they survived the colder weather.

My friend Debbie Keener and I enjoy walking the half-mile trail in St. Albans City Park. Recently, the usual 30-minute walk turned into an hourlong walk in the park.

As we began the slight descent on to the trail, a crow monotonously announced our approach with "caw!" "caw!" 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, cutleaf toothwort, bluet, mayapple, golden ragwort, buttercup, blue violet and the wake-robin.

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 spring beauty is out too, and many shades of pink and deep red adorn what appear to be larger blooms this year.

The day's tally of wildflowers was 24! A good number for so early in April. We will visit again soon as each day will provide even more flower opportunities.

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

This sight caused us to pause a few minutes for Debbie to take some photographs of the flowers. The loud call of a pileated woodpecker pierced the silence. Water was running along the creek bed and splashing over the rocks and tree branches deposited there by winter. It is such a peaceful sound.

You do not have to go far from your own front door to enjoy the beauty of the world around us. A brief walk in the park will provide just the right venue.

I suppose we are all just tired of winter, so even the most common springtime events are 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 of St. Albans may be emailed at billieg48@aol.com.


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