The really big piles of snow may still be melting, but spring is definitely in the air. And with spring comes the wildflowers. The counties in the very southwest corner of Michigan – Cass, Berrien, and St. Joseph – are home to some of the finest spring woodland wildflowers. On Sunday, I made a quick exploratory trip to the Dowagiac woods, to see how things are progressing.
The late March woods were still pretty bleak. A few sprigs of wild garlic poked through the brown leaves that carpeted the ground. In some places, Harbinger of Spring had started to bloom – tiny white flowers. Here and there hepatica leaves were starting to appear.
That was 4 days ago – my guess is that in a week or so, depending on the weather, the hepatica should be coming out in full force.
Despite recent flood warnings due to heavy rain combined with snow melt, the woods were fairly dry. The Dowagiac River runs along the east edge of the woods, behind a short levee. The levee has cuts in it to allow high water to flood into the woods. On the day I was there water was draining out of the flooded areas and back into the river. While a lot of the ground was muck, the trail and the areas nearby were pretty firm.
One pleasant surprise was to hear a great cacophony of frogs near the flood ponds. Frogs are such a rarity anymore; it’s encouraging to hear large numbers of them singing.
I took the old Kodak Retina 1a camera that I try to keep in my coat pocket along for the walk, and here’s a snap of the flood area:
I think that place is “Crescent Pond” - I’d have to chck the maps to be sure, but it looks like a crescent.
This shot was taken on my very last expired roll of 35mm Plus-X (the “old” version). Since the Retina has no focusing aid and no built in meter, focus and exposure were determined by dead reckoning. The film was processed in Rodinal, 1:50, which really makes the Plus-X grain sing.