Today was the warmest day this week. That may be why we had our limit of 30 guests today. The wind was brisk, but the temperature was in low 60,s so once we entered the shelter of the woods it was quite nice for a walk. We searched for pink, purple, and white early ephemerals. It had snowed last Monday, and most people are tired of so much snow this winter. More snow is predicted for next week, so we all felt lucky to be in the woods on this beautiful Saturday.
Since there were so many guests, we split into three groups. One group for slow walkers who wanted to savor the woods with many stops was led by Margan G. Another group who walked farther and took in the Creekside was led by Mary Jo K. The third group did part of the Tuckahoe Trail and the Creekside, did brisk walking with less talking, and was led by me. We were all trying to spot some signs of spring.
Mary Jo’s report: My group consisted of around 10 people, most of whom were new to Soup ’n Walk. We walked the Upland trail to Creekside and then back upland to the sassafrass grove and along the meadow. We were looking for signs of spring. At the first bridge we found skunk cabbage and golden groundsel. We noticed that the buds on the dogwood, the sassafras, and the strawberry bush were getting ready to burst. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any blooms of spring beauty or bloodroot. We discussed the progression of the meadow to forest and how long it takes—and how important it is—to establish old growth forest. Several people remarked about how lovely it was to see the Blockston Branch as it meandered on its way. Everyone enjoyed the beauty of Adkins.
The brisk walkers in my group noted the black cherry trees with their trimmings of black fungus that looked very interesting as we passed by the meadow on the way to the sassafras entrance. The sassafras buds were swelling, but not much yellow was peeking through. Maybe in two weeks on our Sunday walk, they will be showing. Going farther, we noted the beech leaves still on some of the young trees. Before we turned to the Tuckahoe Trail we spotted the green princess pines and pink azalea buds on either side of the trail.
Across the first bridge was a blueberry bush showing pink buds, and looking up at the serviceberry tree nearby we could imagine a few buds showing. Hurrying on to the spice bush bridge, we noted some striped wintergreen leaves, green moss on trees, and some lovely red partridge berries with their twin sepals along the way. The spice bushes were showing just a little bit of yellow, and along the stream we saw a few skunk cabbage leaves and many cranefly orchid leaves. Now we were seriously searching for the early ephemerals and did spot a few spring beauties on the side of the hill facing the sun. Doreen won the prize for the first sighting. We continued to the third bridge, where there was a bigger area of wetlands, and we found many more skunk cabbages, but not nearly as plentiful as other years at this time. Our searching eyes did find a few skunk cabbage purple blooms, and we paused to get a picture and take a good look. We continued up the next hill in the hope of spotting a bloodroot, but no luck, so we turned around and tried the Creekside trail.
Here we noted that there are lots of deerberry understory and lots of green mountain laurel as a second layer. The upper story trees are still without leaves, and we did not spot any wildflowers along this trail. We did enjoy the lovely view of the Tuckahoe River and imagined what it would be like to canoe past the ducks, woodchucks, and beavers. Many green stems of hearts a-bursting are visible here with the leave buds ready to open. We hurried past where the mayapple will be showing next month and noted the green Christmas fern. Shortly after that, someone called our attention to a few spring peepers that were audible. Now we were hurrying, but not before noticing a fallen tree covered with spectacular green lichen for another photo-op.
The chicken vegetable soup was hot and delicious, and the broccoli bud spring salad, dill rye bread with mint jelly, and gingerbread carrot cake with lemon sauce satisfied our hunger. The kale and broccoli represented the skunk cabbage outdoors, and the carrots and sweet potatoes foretold of the yellow in the bursting buds. Zaida W. had gathered greenery and buds from outdoors for artistic displays inside. Pat B., Mary R., Shirley B., and I had set the tables with pink and purple, so it looked very inviting as we came in from our walk. After lunch, we checked the new bookmarks and went over the recipes. Both were available to take home. A list of wildflowers that have been seen in the past at the Arboretum was included. Pat B. and Mary R. did a yeomen’s job getting the serving line ready and helping with cleanup. Some of the guests were signing up for the Sunday walk in two weeks before they left. Thanks to all the staff, especially Robyn, Diana, Allison, and Ginna. This was another successful event for the Arboretum. Some said this was their first Soup ’n Walk and that they were coming again. Many guests however, were returning regulars.
Thanks to all.
by Julianna Pax