"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

April 20, 2011

Little Blessings Everywhere

The glorious white trillium––as majestic as an Easter lily.

The beguiling and delicate wood violet.
Springtime in Appalachia brings true meaning to the season: it is prolonged, glorious, breathtaking. When Daniel Boone described Kentucky as "a second paradise," he was likely referring to its cool green hollers, hillsides laced with redbud and dogwood, and the emergent flora in the wooded landscape. And two centuries later, in his expansive chords and melodic tributes to mountain folk music, Aaron Copland wrote "Appalachian Spring" as a virtuoso ballet suite to both the subtleties and the richness of the season here. I can only hope that Copland spent a few weeks in Kentucky––rising early in the morning, hearing the bird song and watching the landscape transform around him like a veil lifted. Appalachia extends up from the south-central United States to New England like an old tumbling wall: spring travels along it from south to north, ever so varied as it goes.

O Appalachian Spring! I gained the ledge;
Steep, inaccessible smile that eastward bends
And northward reaches in that violet wedge
Of Adirondacks!
 ~ Hart Crane, "The Bridge"

Trillium and trout lily in the forest.
The appearance of the delectable morel on the dappled forest floor in late March has now given way to trillium––white and pink and, if you are fortunate to find them, yellow and red––bloodroot, larkspur, wild phlox, purple violets and the more delicate wood violet, trout lilies, miniature iris and unfurling ferns, among others. There are even patches of wild strawberries blooming along the roadsides or in scrubby, open places.

A bank of trillium in a secluded valley near our home.

My favorite is the pink trillium––I saw all but yellow today.
Everyone seems to have their "secret" wildflower spot in the region and I've certainly found mine: some on our own land and others that I like to look for each year when driving past. Of course, I only take photographs, never a flower. Those who do try to transplant––and I do confess to wanting to move some miniature iris, but only because there are so many in this one spot on our land––often do not succeed. Wildflowers seem to be God's gift to us all, but only in their place: their self-chosen and rightful spot. Their only purpose seems to bring delight to the world. What a marvelous job description! Perhaps this makes them even more glorious––precious discoveries in the forest that would seem to contribute to the annual pageant of color, light and glory that is the Spring! And yet a reminder that everything has its place in the world or its important contribution.

A cache of larkspur along a roadside in nearby Casey County.

Later in the summer, usually in August when the children return to school, I enjoy seeing the Joe Pye weed, purple ironweed and various rudbeckias along the roadside. Even the goldenrod flower is a lovely, late summer contrast to the mauve tones of the other flowers. These are all tall and seem more like sunworshippers. The wildflowers of spring cling more towards to the ground, not really wanting to boast of their beauty or purpose other than to surprise and delight us before the longer, heated summer days.

Morgan Cemetery and an old redbud in front of our knob field.

Wild phlox is everywhere now.
Springtime in Kentucky is a reminder of why we are here in this land, why every spring––this being our fourth full spring season––is a reminder that as dark and bleak as the earth can be for a few months each year, there will always be light and color and bird song again. Spring seems to remind us of why we are here at all: because everything has its season under Heaven and everything lives again.

A trout lily pokes through the forest floor.
Above all, we should always try to find––and allow ourselves to be surprised by––the little blessings along the way. I am blessed and I am equally fortunate to see and appreciate what is around me. I am always thankful for the spark.

You come back when you're ready!



  1. Great post on our beautiful wildflowers!!! I even found one I didn't know yesterday, a red one and am eager to go by it again to identify the small bunch. Unfortunaly, what you've labeled as a trout lily in this post is actually a variated trillium. Notice the 3 leaves and 3 petals. Those come in yellow and red around here and are larger than the other whites, pinks, mauves. The trout lily, I've found, is a little harder to find and is probably finished blooming by now.

  2. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! The photos are wonderful and the writing even better. The last photo, however, isn't a yellow trout lily.


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