Tuesday, May 31, 2011


For all of May's dark days, seemingly-continuous rains, and cool-to-cold weather, the month has ended as if determined to make its exit amid a blaze of sun and blast of heat worthy of mid-August. 

The National Weather Service predicted daily temperatures of 91˚F (32.778˚ C) for the past three days, which would have set new all-time record highs. As it turns out—at least for yesterday and the day before—they overestimated by 2 measly degrees…which means it was just insufferably hot rather than unprecedentedly hot. Today remains to be seen, er, felt. 

Myladylove managed to arrange from Saturday afternoon through today off from work. We spent the extended Memorial Day holiday decorating the graves of various family members and friends, watching the Indy 500, cooking slabs of ribs on the grill, taking long drives, and working in the yard and around the house. Ice cream cones were occasionally consumed as counter-measures against the heat. Interludes of dozy lethargy in the chaise lounges revitalized. We're building screens this morning, planting a few seeds, and perhaps going to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie in 3D at the local IMAX theater. 

Except for the fact the river is too high and muddy for fishing, a near-perfect holiday.

•  •  •

Yesterday was my Grandpa Williams' birthday. He was born in 1879 in Johnson County, Kentucky. When he and Grandma got married, they lived in a log cabin on Bear Branch. Their first two kids were stillborn. However, they raised four daughters and three sons, my mother being the middle child. She outlived all her siblings. Grandpa taught me to plant a garden and whittle safely. He passed away when I was 18 years old. He wouldn't have believe today's world… 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


At the moment, I'm sitting on a bench watching the river. The water is flowing along briskly thanks to recent rains—a rich golden-green, rather opaque, whispering as it goes and full of mystery. Yet every so often, when the sun briefly appears from behind the scattered clouds along with bits of sky, the stream's surface is all shot through with light and flashes of brilliant blues, like the intense swirls of color in a piece of the extraordinary glasswork art by Dale Chihuly.

I could sit and watch this interplay for hours. 

Why is it that such beauty is always so fleeting…so ephemeral? And yet our days and lives are played out in a series of such transitory moments.

"Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life," wrote Seneca.

Today my life is counted on a gold-green flow.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Saturday was a great critter day here on the riverbank. The parade of visitors began while Myladylove and I were having breakfast on the dooryard deck and I glanced up from my omelet to see a lump poised at the edge of a walkway block. A clod of dirt? Goose droppings? The gob looked vaguely familiar, almost turtle-like…though not in a place where you'd expect to find a turtle. 

"…a little snapper the size of an Oreo cookie…"
I got up to investigate. The lump was indeed a turtle, a little snapper about the size of an Oreo cookie. What was a recently hatched snapping turtle doing here? The walkway is adjacent to the side-yard deck which opens off the cottage's front door. (Actually side door, since the true front of the cottage faces the river. There's also a narrow deck across this front end, which we call our front deck, and it also has a door, but that's referred to as our sliding door. I know this is confusing, but it makes perfect—if loopy—sense to us.) 

Anyway, the miniature snapping turtle was a dozen feet above the river and several yards removed from the water—with a steep intervening bank so cluttered with stones and various chunks of concrete rubble that even the biggest snapper could never clamber up. Which meant the young turtle was on the way down—having likely been born somewhere nearby. This was also evidenced by the bits of grass clippings you see plastered onto its shell.

Breakfasting robin.
Scolding blue jay.
I meant to give it an assist over this rocky gauntlet…but got distracted when Moon-the-Dog took off to greet a neighbor. When I got back from retrieving my pooch, the pint-sized snapper had disappeared. I gave my now cold omelet to the dog and took a walk around the yard. 

A breakfasting robin watched me with a wary eye, a nuthatch defied gravity and kept up a series of nasal inquiries, while a proprietary blue jay scolded me for trespass from the box elder. 

Nasal nuthatch.
Twenty yards from the deck I found a small common water snake, mutely patterned in shades of brown and tan. If I'd have been down in the state's southeastern hill country, I might have momentarily mistaken this harmless water snake for a poisonous copperhead—though only for an instant since water snakes lack the copperhead's triangular head, vertical pupils, and general overall appearance. I did notice this snake's eyes were clouded, slightly bluish, indicating it was in the process of moulting, or shedding its skin.

"…a small common water snake."
Myladylove and I spent much of the day working around the yard—planting seeds, transplanting various ground covers, edging beds, and whacking a few weeds, generally trying to keep the onslaught of jungle-like greenery and growth from taking over the place. About noon a pair of geese and their half-dozen bobbing goslings came drifting downstream, borne speedily along by the still-full-river's swift current. I barely had time to grab the camera, point, and make a single quick snap. 

The day's undoubted highlight came in midafternoon, as we sat on the deck resting and sipping glasses of iced tea. Again, Moon, always on the alert, spotted something and took off—across the yard and up the driveway hill. Myladylove and I went after her, yelling, threatening, figuring she was fixated on a stray a cat or dog—or another of the neighbors she so likes to visit. Instead, to our amazement—and possibly Moon's, too—it turned out to be a deer in my neighbor Edgar's yard. The whitetail, only slightly spooked by Moon, quickly trotted twenty yards away. I got the dog headed off and herded back into our yard. Myladylove took over, the whitetail came cautiously back to where it had been originally—and I darted for the for the camera. 

"…a pair of geese and their half--dozen bobbing goslings."
Returning, camera now in hand, I was astonished to find the deer in our yard. Myladylove said it had trotted past her and Moon, passing no more than twenty-five feet away. The whitetail was now standing at the edge of the bank near the hostas, looking at the water then up towards the road, as if trying to decide whether to cross over to the island (in the pix, you can just see the gleam of the channel and the island fifty feet beyond) or go back up the drive to choose another direction. In the end, that's what it did—again passing only a few yards away from Myladylove, Moon, and me.

The deer was obviously used to people, fairly tame, and likely came from the park that's across the river. I expect it had crossed at one of the riffles downstream, where the water is shallower, and didn't quite like the deeper look of things along this stretch. In the end, the whitetail headed up the road, toward the dead end and turnaround—and I lost track. I hope it made it home safely. Though deer are common hereabouts, since moving here seven years ago, this is the first one I've seen in yard.

Friday, May 20, 2011


"Columbine," wrote naturalist John Burroughs, "is at all times and in all places one of the most exquisitely beautiful flowers." And so it is, with flaming, long-spurred blooms of red-orange with yellow centers and protruding yellow stamens, and which glow in dim woodlands like a struck match.  

Columbines are members of the buttercup family. Their name comes from colomba, Latin for "dove," the same root from which we get "Columbia." Since Biblical times, and the story of Noah and the ark, doves have been considered symbols of peace. A circle of doves heads was once a popular design painted on serving plates and other objects. You'll sometimes hear Columbines "Five Doves," perhaps because the nodding spurs somewhat resemble five tiny birds perched in a huddle of golden sepals. 

This "heads in a circle" of the rounded-top, extended spurs doubtless inspired another picturesque name I've occasionally heard older country folks employ—"Meetinghouses." Others call them "Rock Bells," because Columbines thrive in rocky woodlands and around limestone ledges. Occasionally you hear it mistakenly called "Honeysuckle," though you can bite off the tips of the tubes and suck out the drop of sweet nectar inside.

Click to enlarge, and you'll see a tiny bee sipping nectar
under the bloom's yellow-tipped "bell" of the bloom.
Hummingbirds are also prime pollinators for this plant.
An ancient legend that says every spring, lions eat Columbine to give them strength. For that reason, before going into battle, some warriors used to rub their hands with Columbine to strengthen their courage.  

In the language of flowers, pretty as they are, giving someone—woman or man—Columbines is tantamount to insult and bad luck, since they're considered a symbol of either cuckoldry or a deserted lover. Probably not your desired message unless the recipient happens to be a politician.

Among the old herbalists, Columbine seeds boiled in wine, was employed to speed and ease delivery in childbirth. It's interesting to note that long before it was first collected and sent back to Europe by John Tradescant in the early 1600s, the American Indians were using the plant for the same thing. 

Yesterday, in spite of dark skies and intermittent sprinkles, I spent much of the afternoon in the woods. I found the Columbines in these photos growing on a rocky bank above the river a short distance upstream from the cottage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Practically the first living creature I noticed the morning after I moved into this old stone cottage was a Baltimore oriole. I had a cup of strong coffee clutched desperately in hands made stiff and swollen from lifting boxes and shifting furniture, and I’d just staggered from the kitchen to the living room and out onto the narrow deck that overlooks the river. The gaudy, eye-catching male was sitting in a sunlit opening about halfway up a towering, white-trunked sycamore on the island directly across the channel—ember bright against the dark green leaves, visible as a neon sign.

A jaunty, living flame of a bird. 

As if in greeting, the oriole let loose with a verse or two of his lovely, flute-like whistles. felt suddenly elated by his cheery welcome and immediately forgot all about my aching back and assorted pains.

I'm not the first to be captivated by an oriole's voice. Naturalist Mark Catesby named the Baltimore oriole after George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, who visited Virginia in 1628, and was so delighted by the song and appearance of the many orioles he saw along the way that orange-and-black became the official heraldic colors of the Maryland colony. Audubon wrote vividly of days filled with orioles and their songs when he was exploring on both the Mississippi and Ohio rivers—the “thousand musical voices coming from neighboring trees,” and the gratification he experienced “upon sight of the brilliant birds.”

I only managed a couple of shots of the Baltimore oriole that recently showed up in the dooryard box elder. Neither is particularly good. And after looking and comparing these photos to other images online, I'm frankly still not sure whether this less-colorful Baltimore oriole is a female or immature male—though I think the bird might be a bit too orange for a female. However, it also lacks a mature male's solid black head and the orange seems more muted than a typical adult male's…though drab only by full-dress oriole standards. So I remain confused. Opinions would be welcomed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Dame's Rocket is one of those non-native escapees from the mustard family that has done so well on its own that it's garnered something of a loose reputation. In fact, in some imperious quarters, the poor plant is dubbed downright promiscuous, a blight to the neighborhood, viewed by gimlet-eyed watchkeepers as a creeping invasive as insidious any beast from one of those old back & white monster flics from the 1950s. The truth, however, there's not much evidence I can find of Dame's Rocket actually harming any native wildflower, contributing in the least to some sort of habitat degradation, or causing the first smidgen of environmental damage. 

For me, the laughable paradox is that most descriptions of this dastardly foreign intruder begin with a sentence along the lines of…the abundant, sweetly fragrant flowers, in tall showy clusters of purple, pink, or white, blooms, are undemanding, self-seeding, prove excellent when cut for indoor arrangements, and are attractive to hummingbirds and adored by bees, butterflies, moths, and most other pollinators. 

Well, now! That's certainly a manifesto of botanical licentiousness and unbridled dastardly intent!

You call this a bad plant? Gimmie a break! 

Personally, I suspect the motive of naysaying and disfavor comes from an ego-based jealousy of anything that's obviously successful without our "help." We want to be in control. When a plant slips over the garden wall and decides to strike out on its own, we immediately seek to condemn and quell the adventurous truant.

Yeah, I've seen Dame's Rocket blooming in dense monotypic patches along roadways, woodland edges, and in corners of forgotten fields. But I'm still not convinced they're doing anything other than mostly brightening and beautifying an otherwise drab waste area.  

Dame's Rocket was brought from Europe to North America during the 1600s. It has been grown in gardens since at least the days of the Roman Empire. The genus name, Hesperis, comes from the Greek and refers to evening—which is the time you'll find the delicious scent of the Dame's Rocket's blooms are at their aromatic best. The plants do just fine in fairly well-drained soil, and anything from full sun to light shade.  

Okay, so you think I'm obviously a smitten fan—blinded by their lovely leggy looks, lost in their heady perfume, and thrilled by their independent spirit. Well, you got me—guilty as charged, and moreover, blissfully and forever unrepentant. Of course, I've always been delighted by such dames…

Monday, May 16, 2011


For those of you wondering whether I had been laid low by illness, incarcerated for some trespass violation while skulking about for smallmouth bass, or had simply thrown dog and gear into the pickup and headed for the hills on a gypsy campout…Riverdaze's recent unannounced hiatus was due to those unfathomable technical difficulties.

As most of you probably know already, Blogger went down Thursday afternoon. For many of us, our blogs remained lost and in limbo until late Friday. Most of my blog returned late Friday night. However, all comments and posts made both Wednesday and Thursday had been temporarily removed and stored somewhere until the Blogger gurus got everything back up and running smoothly.

Though my post from Thursday (on queen snakes) returned on Saturday evening, all comments and replies from Wednesday and Thursday remained missing. Blogger said these, too, would be restored over the weekend.

Alas, so far those missing comments and replies have not materialized. I suspect they've been banished to some digital purgatory, never to reappear again. However, because a copy of any comment to my posts, plus my reply, is always saved to my email account once I post the comment/reply, I was able to restore what I think are the missing materials. Both comment and reply appear as a single comment entry from me. (But note: if I hadn't yet posted the comment/reply to the blog, there would be no email copy and thus I would not have a record.) So if you made a comment and neither it nor a reply is up there, doubtless your missive slipped through the cracks.    

Anyway, Riverdaze is back up, things are now good, damage was minimal, I'm happy, and my grass needs mowing…but won't be until who-knows-when because rain is predicted through Thursday. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Here on the riverbank, one of the vernal season's neatest events is the return of the queen snakes. 

Every spring—weeks before you'd think it was warm enough to see a cold-blooded reptile—queen snakes desert their hidey-holes below the cottage and climb the still-leafless grapevine tangles which twine through wood lattice along the river-facing deck. I begin watching for them on sunny days in late-March. It doesn't have to be much above freezing; just sunny. This year—in spite of various high waters—they've been making regular appearances for at least a month. 

Queen snakes are related to, and often mistaken for garter snakes. (Same family and sub-family, but different genuses.) Queens are water snakes, and sport longitudinally-running "keeled" scales, which act exactly like the keel on a boat, by increasing stability and tracking as the snake glides through the water. One of my queen snakes—likely a female—measures a bit over two feet long; about the absolute maximum for the species. The rest—I typically have 6-8 queen snakes scattered among the vines on a given day—run 12-18 inches, except for a couple which are under a foot and not much larger in diameter than a pencil.   

Presumably, my cottage queens shinny up lattice and vine to catch a better sun angle for basking. Yet this end of the cottage faces west, so the deck remains in shadow until the sun passes the overhanging end of the great-room's roof. Nevertheless, they've made their ascent by mid-morning. 

Depending on the river's level, it's maybe 10-12 feet from the water's edge to the top of the deck's rail. The little snakes usually clamber up as high as possible, sometimes ascending all the way to stretch out along the rail itself—especially after the weather warms and the grapevine is fully leafed. I usually allow a few grapevine tendrils to grow along and above the wooden rail, just so my little sunning serpents will have a bit of shade and concealment. You'd be amazed how easy it is to miss one of these basking snakes, even when it's only inches from where you've placed your hand while peering over and below, trying to spot them among the greenery.

Queen snakes are gentle and very tolerant of my close inspections. Because the queen snake's diet is almost exclusively soft-shelled crawfish, which in turn require waters free from acidification and pollution by heavy metals, their appearance indicates favorable news of a clean river and healthy ecosystem.

I can always use such good news. The basking queens are welcome.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The sun is not quite up, here along the river. From what I can see through my workroom window, the sky is slightly overcast, the light soft and shadowless. Redbirds in the cedar tangles are singing. A robin in the top of the dooryard box elder is swinging through his lyrical melody. And in the pool in front of the cottage, the Canada geese are honking belligerently at one another.

Today is my birthday…and I hope you'll forgive me for departing from the usual nature-based fare for a few self-reflective comments. Nothing earth-shattering, mind you; no unveiling of any great secrets; no imparting of timeless wisdom. Just a few observations on a green May morning while I sip my coffee and consider the day ahead.

There was a time in my late youth when I aspired to be wealthy, handsome, and wise—an erudite bon vivant man-of-the-world. I have failed miserably on every count. Instead of a sprawling mansion in the suburbs, I live in a small stone cottage beside a small, pastoral stream. You've only to look at my mug shot to see how badly I missed the second aspiration. As for wisdom…the more I've learned, the less I know. Moreover, I prefer wearing jeans, tee-shirts, and sneakers, eating in country cafés and trading friendly quips with those around, to sitting at the head table at the most exclusive clubs and establishments, exchanging societal gossip and perspicacious insights with the real "movers and shakers."    

I also intended to pursue a life of swashbuckling adventure. While I've certainly had more than my share of adventures, feats of heroic derring-do have seldom occurred, and both damsels-in-distress and dragons needing slaying have proven to be in noticeably short supply. Mostly I've caught a lot of lovely fish from back-of-beyond wilderness streams where bears and eagles outnumbered people, and the stars at night almost came close enough to touch.

I have no regrets whatsoever about how things have turned out.

What I have learned is that life is a gift and death inevitable. Between this finite span, we live only in the here-and-now…and we can either squander or savor each precious moment. There is always a choice.

I know that honesty, decency, courage, and compassion mean more to me than any sort of wealth or power. I'd rather give than receive, because the surest way to enlarge you life is to share yourself. Sometimes, to really own something, you have to give it away. 

I've learned the right path to follow is usually the hardest. I strive to live an honorable life, to follow the Golden Rule—and when I fail, I diminish and disappoint myself. Vengeance is never sweet. I'd rather be humble than proud.   

It's better to love than to hate. When people love you, love them back. Tell them; show them. True friends are not all that common, but are one of life's greatest treasures. Friendship should always be reciprocal. Never miss an opportunity to let someone know how much you care about them. Nothing beats forgiveness and understanding. A warm hug is way better than a cold heart.

Finally, I know that God—not fate or self-determination—is the master of my life. I've tried it the other way and found life to be empty, worthless, and ultimately devoid of meaning. The physical and intellectual simply aren't enough; there is always a void. All the logic and rationalizing in the world didn't make it feel better; I couldn't deny or disbelieve it away. 

God has been really good to me. I am here, having made it to another year, by His grace.  

I am so grateful.

Monday, May 9, 2011


A song sparrow sits on the corner of the riverside deck and
lives up to its name by filling the morning with melody.

Spring is in full swing here along the riverbank—with each successive day trying to outshine the one before.

The new crop of green leaves, in a thousand different shades, is coming along nicely. A veritable chlorophyll explosion. Some trees and shrubs are already more than halfway leafed out, their cover already concealing the understructure of limbs and branches. Of course the innumerable sycamores, which lean thoughtfully over the freshet-darkened water like white-robed druids, have barely begun their annual transformation. Sycamores always wait, as if watching to make sure they aren't being fooled by a trick of weather…though perhaps they simply choose to exercise the dignity of a more sedate pace—the pace of a tree whose leaves, when finally fully formed, will sometimes measure a foot across. You call those paltry little green flaps leaves? Nahhhh…these are leaves!  

Now, too, the chorus of feathered songsters begins well before dawn—robins, sparrows, cardinals, titmice, and warblers who've stopped by for rest and refueling on their journey north. In fact, yesterday I chalked up another first-time visitor when a dazzling orange-and-black bedecked male Blackburnian Warbler slid down the cable holding the hummingbird feeder and proceeded to drink his fill of sugar water. He was gone before I could get my camera, but returned a half-dozen times throughout the day, and I managed to snap enough images to be certain of the identification—though not one is usable for posting.

I don't think I've mentioned it, but the hummingbirds showed up hereabouts last week. The first one I saw appeared on a cold (40˚F), dark and drizzling mid-morning. Not at one of the feeders, but hovering just beyond my windowpane, as if miffed at this large fellow hunched over the keyboard in the warm and dry. Since, I've had hummers—mostly males—at the feeders almost continuously.

There's a lot more to report, but I'll save that for other posts. Moreover, I've just noted a very yellow warbler flitting about the big box elder near the front door. Duty calls…

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I not sure which I like most, the flowers or the name…Gill-Over-the-Ground—which, for whatever reasons, always strikes me as vaguely Irish. Certainly the tiny lavender-blue blossoms, rather orchid-like in appearance, could have been fashioned by a leprechaun.  

Yet for many lawn owners and gardeners, this plant—also called Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, and at least a half-dozen other names—is the scourge of their backyards. Nothing more than a sneaky weed to be yanked, poisoned, and cursed unmercifully. Personally, I think they're the sort of folks prone to believe the only useful plants are purchased in containers from big-box retailers. 

A member of the mint family, Gill-Over-the-Ground is easily cultivated, forms a sturdy ground cover, grows great in shade, is pretty in appearance, blooms well, smells good, while its leaves make a tasty addition to salads, and can also be brewed into a fair cup of tea. What more do you want from a plant? Plus, not only is it lovely and edible, it's medicinal—with a long herbal history of use in treating everything from stuffy head colds to lingering coughs to scurvy, thanks to its high vitamin C content. Which is why Gill-Over-the-Ground was among the first plants to be brought to this country by European settlers, who did know the difference between a an all-around panacea and a vile weed.

Alas, nothing I say is apt to change anyone's mind. Its detractors see only a vining invader, a nefarious slinking purple plague, sending out its loathsome tendrils in the dark of night in a covert attempt to take over their manicured bluegrass. You either like it or hate it. And I like Gill-Over-the-Ground…both plant and name.


Friday, May 6, 2011


The sun was barely up when I stumbled down the hall and into my work room yesterday morning. As I leaned over the chair to place a cup of coffee on the corner of the desk, I glanced up at the sunflower seed feeder hanging just beyond the window.

Wow! A male rose-breasted grosbeak! 

This constitutes the first-ever male I've seen here along the river. I do enjoy what I've come to think of as my "annual grosbeak sighting," which has invariably been of the less-colorful  female. And heretofore, these grosbeak events happened only once each year, generally in the early spring. I figured when a female grosbeak showed up for a day last week—which I mentioned a few posts back—was that 2011's grosbeak quota had then been reached. Now I've not only added the missing male from the cottage tally, but I've doubled my usual grosbeak total. Who knows what lies ahead!

The photo isn't much. The light was really low, the window dirty, and there's a bit of sun-glare across the glass. I'd hoped to do better outside later on. But as things worked out, though the bird hung around most of the day, I spent all morning and afternoon on a wildflowering junket to a nearby woods, then later had to attend an early-evening meeting downtown. So what you see is the best image I managed. 

Still, I'm elated. A male rose-breasted grosbeak at my window. Wow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Let us be clear about this from the outset: garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolatais an invasive—a marching, pesky alien that, in certain areas and situations, spreads easily and forms a near monoculture along shady riverbanks and their wooded floodplains, on the sides of damp forest trails and roadways, anywhere that the light is dimmed and the soil moist. Because a single biennial plant produces thousands of seeds, and grows aggressively in the cool dampness of mid-spring, garlic-mustard severely threatens a number native species—including concurrent ephemerals such as bloodroot, Dutchman's breeches, hepaticas, toothworts, and trilliums, to name just a few, along with any insects and invertebrates that depend upon them. 

Yet the plant's single best weapon, the reason for its success, is a lack of natural enemies. Nothing much seems to like eating garlic-mustard, including whitetail deer. In Europe, the plant's original home, garlic-mustard is not invasive because it is relished by upwards of three dozen different species of insects; here in North America…zip, nada, not one bug finds it palatable—at least not enough so to make any difference to its unwanted expansion.

The irony is that garlic-mustard was brought to this country for food and as a medicinal herb by early settlers. The fact is, the young leaves of garlic-mustard—which tastes, as you might imagine, of both garlic and mustard—makes a good addition to salads, stir-fries, and sauces. I've not yet done so, but garlic-mustard is said to make an excellent pesto for pasta, baked potatoes, roasted veggies, even over broiled fish. 

Garlic-mustard's tiny (1/3 to 1/4 inch) flowers, grown in clusters atop a stalk that's anywhere from 1–3 feet tall, are nevertheless undeniably lovely. Pale white blooms that look like miniature cross-stitches amid the darker greenery.

Like so many other invaders we've introduced with good intentions, garlic-mustard has not only turned on us—it's settled in for the long haul, unlikely to ever be eradicated. The best we can do is learn how to remove the plants, and to do so whenever and wherever possible. And if you believe that vengeance is sometimes best served up for dinner, you'l be tastily rewarded.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Blessed with a warm, partially sunny day Saturday, fellow-father-in-law, Rich, and I took a short drive up the road to check on a patch of Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) which grows on a certain wooded hillside. Most years, the dense stand of luxuriant plants with their showy blooms spangles well over an acre—a sight that, coming upon them as you amble over the brow of the forested knoll, never fails to take your breath away.  

Unfortunately, this time around, the plants were sparse and undersize, nothing like the knee-high thousand-fold display of white and pink flowers from years past. I was disappointed, but only mildly so, for there were still trilliums about…and even a single Large-Flowered Trillium in bloom is still a thing of striking beauty. 

Trillium were so named by 18th-century botanist Carl Linnaeus because everything about the plant came in threes…three petals, three sepals, three leaves, three ovaries, and berries with three ribs. 

There are thirty-plus species of trilliums native to the U.S. Ohio has eight species, one of which is endangered, another listed as threatened, and a third which was collected just once, in 1879, and has not been found inside our borders since. Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), also called Large White Trillium, is the state's official wildflower.

All these photos are of Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum). You'll notice the flower at the head of the post is pink rather than white. This is not a pink variation—though pink variations of Trillium grandiflorum are occasionally found. Rather, this is simply part of the flower's aging process. The bloom starts out a showy white, but with time, gradually takes on a pale-pink hue which, a day or two before wilting, turns this very dark pink. The prominent yellow, pollen-dusted anthers are quite distinctive.

If you'd like to learn a bit more about Ohio's trillium, plus look at some excellent and lovely photos, here are several worthwhile links to recent pages by fellow Buckeye bloggers: (Kelly, here and here), (A.L. Gibson, here and here), (Mike, here), and (Michael, here.)