Grab life by the flowers

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Autumn is so often the season that we think about being thankful. It’s no wonder, with harvest season in late summer through early fall, Thanksgiving in November, running water and reliable heating in our homes, that spring is not exactly a thankful season for most people. Take a walk around wherever you live and I think you’ll see a different story.

This time of year, the very early flowers are called “Spring Ephemerals” – spring because that’s when they flower and ephemeral because they last for a very short period of time. Spring ephemerals take advantage of the slim window of time between when the ground warms up enough to wake them from dormancy and when the leaves come out on the trees, shading them too much. They are typically diminutive and very quick to complete their lifecycle. They also provide much needed food to the handful of pollinators that wake up from hibernation a tad early.

Every year when I see these first fruits of spring, I’m reminded that it is a time to be thankful for getting through another winter, but I am also simply thankful for the flowers themselves. After such a stark, monochromatic time as winter, these little brave flowers, fleeting though they may be, remind me that “April, come she will.”

My father used to say that no experience is wasted if you learn something from it. I’ve taken that with me my whole life and consider myself in a constant state of studying. Learning keeps me thinking, thinking keeps me growing and growing satisfies my need to acknowledge the dignity I contain, inherent, simply because I’m human. There are lessons to be learned, even in the simplest of early spring flowers, whose lesson may very well be “Life is short – grab it by the flowers.”

Here’s a list of some of my favorite Spring Ephemerals:

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Grecian windflower

Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda)

Dutchmen’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Great white Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana)

Common blue violet, bicolor form (Viola sororia f. priceana)

Spring beauties (Claytonia virginica)

Trout lily (Erythronium albidum or americanum)

Cornell in our Community Column by Patty Catalano, Ag & Garden Educator

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