Soup ‘n Walk, February 23, 2013

droplets on grassThe sun and the snow were not visible today, but we had a lovely mystical walk in the mist. The greens we searched for were very special. There were 15 guests and 5 volunteers on the walk, and the temperature was in the 40s with no wind. We saw many shades of green and blue on the tree trunks in the form of lichen. The mosses along the trail and Blockston Branch were lovely even in the absence of sunlight. Obviously they had been soaking up the sun on other sunny days. These moss plants with no vascular system tend to do well in the summer months. Some of the mossy paths cushioned our footsteps, and we enjoyed the silence. Blockston Branch’s flowing water had many lovely circles from the raindrops hitting the surface.

The grasses in the meadow held droplets of water that glistened in the mist. More droplets were visible at eye level in the woods on the slender twigs of the ironwood trees. At the first bridge, we enjoyed spotting the purple and green skunk cabbage buds. Some green leaves were starting to appear. The skunk cabbage and the netted chain fern, which are visible in late spring, are earmarks of healthy wetlands. At the Visitor’s Center, we had the projector set up to show a continuous loop of skunk cabbage blooms that Lynn L. and I had paired with some beautiful poetry about skunk cabbage.

Some commented on the number of trees that were down, and a few trunks that had been uprooted gave us a view of how shallow these root systems are of even very large trees in the wetlands. Nature was treating us to her artwork. There were green holly leaves, green stems of hearts-a-bursting, and green thorny stems of greenbrier. Green leaves of the cranefly orchid with the purple undersides were also visible. All of this green represents chlorophyll that is active during the winter months when the trees are barren of leaves.

Further along the very mossy side trail were lots of green ebony spleenwort. The rain was getting a little more noticeable now, so we started walking a little faster in anticipation of hot soup and a dry, beautifully decorated lunch room. There was lots of tree bark that we could identify, and the black fungus on the black cherry was also evident.

The luncheon featured Caldo Verde (green) soup with kale, roasted vegetables with red beets (as purple as the skunk cabbage and underside of the cranefly orchid leaf). We had  quinoa salad with green broccoli and red peppers and finally an almond cupcake with lemon frosting decorated with a green lime slice. We discussed the recipes and the valuable nutrients in the ingredients. Our volunteers were most helpful. They included Mickey B. (decorator), Alice M., Ruth M., Pat B., Shirley B., Zaida W., Mary A. H., and Mary J. K. Many thanks were heard from the guests, and we are looking forward to the next Soup ‘n Walk on March 23, which will include one- and two-hour walks to see the first of our ephemerals. We hope to see many of you. My thanks to all the volunteers and staff who make this event so worthwhile.

by Julianna Pax
Arboretum docent

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