nature 05.24 lady’s slipper

Lady's slipper

It took a while to get here but in the end, it was worth waiting for. In spite of the omnipresent blanket of cold, wet weather that attempted to obscure the season, spring persevered and persisted. Even on the most miserable days she toiled to put forth tender shoots of plants and painted the landscape with sweet blushing blossoms.

If you’ve been out in the woods at all, you know that this has been a spectacular year for mosses. All that dampness has brought out a velvety green that is so gorgeous and rich it could make even the most curmudgeonly troll swoon with delight.

Beach plum and crabapples are in bloom as well as many trees. It’s pollen time out there, as the sound of sneezes through the landscape will confirm. My favorite spring flowers, Canada mayflower, starflower and lady’s slipper are all beginning to bloom. Sarsparilla and mayapple, too. Watch out for poison ivy. All the rain has assured us of a bumper crop this year. It is already tall and leggy in many areas.

Many of our local birds are fledging young. Both Carolina wren and chickadee babies are already out of the nest, at least in some places. Woodpeckers, grackles, starlings and crows are feeding young and little ducklings, goslings and cygnets are being seen in area ponds and wetlands.

Butterflies are out, showing off newly minted wings. The first dragonflies were out this week as well, their wings still fresh and new. Dragonflies emerge from fresh water, discard their outgrown and last exoskeleton as a nymph and climb out on grasses, branches or even docks, to spread their new wings to dry. They will then head away from the water for at least a few hours, if not a day or two. You may see them over fields or in sunny woodsy areas. This helps them strengthen their wings as well as acclimate to their new airborne lifestyle, before returning to watery areas to find a mate and continue the watery life cycle as they lay eggs.

Blueberries and huckleberries have lots of blossoms. Teaberry is sending out new leaves, and grasses are getting stronger and taller. Turtles are on the move, as are horseshoe crabs and fish. It’s a busy, busy time out there in nature.

As I was moving my plants about outside the other day, I stopped to listen to the orioles chatter. I’ve had a ridiculous number of orioles at my feeder over the last few weeks, including a pair of orchard orioles. After gorging on more than a few jars of organic grape jelly and countless oranges, the oriole show has slowed down a lot. This isn’t anything to worry about. It’s nesting time. They are busy, and there is lots of natural food around. Don’t worry; they’ll be back in a few weeks with their newly fledged young in tow.

This is a good time to clean all your feeders and maybe stow some away until next fall. A bird bath, especially one with moving water, will attract plenty of birds to your yard, especially if you have a garden and a lawn devoid of poisons, so they can feed themselves and their young.

Many people are complaining about bunnies eating their flowers. Yep, that’s what bunnies do. Plant plenty for both you and the bunnies. They love dandelions and clover as much as your favorite garden plants, so give them their own happy place. Fences will deter most of them and tall fences will deter deer from nibbling. We live in their world, not the other way around. If you have rabbits and deer, be glad. That means you don’t live in a cement box or a desert. There’s plenty to share.

Spring has sprung. Just think, a week or so ago that didn’t feel possible.

Mary Richmond is an artist, writer, naturalist, and educator who grew up on the Cape and lives in Hyannis. More information is at

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