This report captures the enjoyment of the February 21 Soup ‘n Walk program. Join the March Soup ‘n Walk this Saturday, March 21 at 11 a.m. Click here for more information.
For the past few years, we have talked about getting snow for our February Soup ‘n Walk. Well, we got snow last Tuesday, and it was still on the ground by Saturday. But many who had signed up did not come because the forecast for this Saturday afternoon was not good. That said, only 8 of the 19 who had reservations came today. Those who were here had a wonderful time walking in the snow and enjoying the lunch and talk afterward. The weather for the morning walk was crisp, and the woods blocked the breeze. The bad weather came later in the afternoon, and mostly on the Western Shore.
On our snowy trek, we did find a few early skunk cabbage blooms poking through the snow when we peered over the first bridge. Some already knew about the chemical reaction that helps the skunk cabbage melt through the snow and helps entice the few flies around to pollinate. The snow was soft and crunchy underfoot. We noticed the change in sound from the bridge to the trail. So quiet as we stepped off the bridge onto the trail.
emerging skunk cabbage
Many of the trees were showing the start of leaves at the tips of the branches. We especially looked at the paw paw, with its soft paw at the tip. Beech tree leaves were still on some of the younger trees, and we could detect the new copper-colored bullet-shaped leaves ready to pop and push off the old papery leaves. The last of the translucent leaves made a whispery sound in the breeze. Hearts a’ bursting were showing red leaftips at the edges of the green branches.
Digging through the snow, we found a few cranefly orchid leaves that we carefully covered again. As we left the woods, my companion turned to me and said, turn around. Look how lovely the woods look from here. I agreed and mentioned that this view is again special to me when the dogwood set their lacy blooms under the trees in April. He said he would be back.
The green moss was mostly covered with snow, but down close to the Blockston Branch banks we could see just a little green. Most of the green was visible on the holly leaves, Virginia and loblolly pines, and red cedar trees. Green was also visible on greenbriar branches and hearts a’ bursting. The milkweed pods in the meadow against the snow also attracted our attention. Someone mentioned the zebra butterflies at the paw paw trees and monarchs at the milkweed patch. We are getting the word out.
The smell of hot kale, corn, and black bean soup greeted us at the Visitor’s Center. We chowed down on the Eastern Shore cole slaw and ancient grain bread with spinach spread, and enjoyed the warm dried fruit compote with vanilla yogurt and wheat germ. All of these are hearty winter foods to remind us of the season outdoors. There was a discussion of the good nutrition in these foods, and all received the supplement cookbook with these and more recipes as a tenth anniversary gift from me. Zaida W. had brought samples of some of the seeds, leaves, and berries from outdoors, and we identified them. Many said they were appreciative of the discussions and information.
We had enough food ordered for 19 guests plus docent volunteers, so there was plenty extra. Zaida had brought many containers, and guests and volunteers all had plenty to take home. The guests were all smiles and said they had a wonderful time and would be back. This truly is a great showcase for the Arboretum.
The volunteers and staff who helped have my many thanks. With help from Pat B., Mary Jo K., Pat R., Clara Mae S., and Zaida W., we were able to set up, greet the guests, do the tour, serve lunch, and clean up. It was a superb effort from everyone. Lynn L helped bring some of the dessert. Robyn, Allison, Diana, and staff helped with some of the preparations. Thanks to all.
by Julianna Pax
Arboretum docent naturalist