Friday, May 20, 2011

Walk in the Woods

A path along New Hope Creek.

When we first moved to Chapel Hill eight years ago, we were eager to discover the natural beauty of the North Carolina Piedmont. We consulted guidebooks and were delighted to find hikes along rivers and rocky outcrops within an hour and a half's drive. It took us a couple of years to realize that there were beautiful trails just a few minutes away. Most of them are located in patches of undeveloped woodlands along creeks.

One recent day, distracted by too many tasks, I headed to Duke Forest late in the afternoon. The woods were fragrant with the smell of flowers and damp earth. Birds were flitting about, chirping. All I saw at first was undifferentiated greenness. Then, along the creek, a bright spot of yellow arrested me - a tiger swallowtail butterfly.

Tiger swallowtail butterfly
As I picked my way along the rocky path, I began noticing the bright greens, whites and blues of moss and lichen on rocks. The charming plants below are growing atop the moss on a boulder. Does anyone know what they are?

I have a special affection for plants growing on top of stones. They whisper to me, assuring me of the creativity and resilience of life.

Top left: Evergreen wild ginger  (Asarum shuttleworthii); Top right: Hepatica nobilis
Bottom right: Christmas fern
Small wildflowers shone with dots of color amidst the riot of green vegetation along the banks of the creek and side of the path. The fire pink (Silene virginica) is a beauty, don't you think? It's dainty (about the size it is in the photo) and finely crafted, with notches on each thin petal. Its stunning shade of scarlet attracts ruby-throated hummingbirds, which pollinate it.

Main photo: Silene virginica; Right bottom: Oenothera fruticosa
Around a bend, a tree-sized mountain laurel was in full bloom, with a carpet of snow-like petals covering the earth below.

Kalmia latifolia
I spent much longer than planned on the walk because of all the stops for photography. I had just turned off the camera when something skittered in the leaves. When I paused, it froze. I almost deleted the photo below because the subject was so well camouflaged.  

Where do you find natural beauty in your community? 

Where do you go to restore your soul?


Anonymous said...

Lovely walk! We don't have a public garden/walk quite that large around here...thanks for letting me tag along through your photos. :)

Donna said...

We have a few places you can walk in the woods, but they are not close by for I walk my gardens and reconnect with my soul there...

Becky said...

I just love a walk in the woods.It can really make the world go away. Those look like rattlesnake plantain to me. I love mosses, but I have not learned to identify them.

Sheila Read said...

Hanni, you're very welcome! I'm sorry you don't have public "wild" areas nearby.

Donna, isn't it wonderful to have gardens? I don't know how I would nourish my soul without a garden ...

Becky, I know, I feel like I'm entering a new (and somehow more real) world when I walk in the woods ...
I'll have to look up rattlesnake plantain and see if that's a match.