Sunday, March 15, 2009

Into the Woods on a Winter Day

After a couple of days of soaking rain, I took a hike into the woods of Itawamba County on Saturday. It was a damp foggy day, but the rains the night before had washed the landscape clean producing nature’s vivid colors. I’ve always enjoyed hiking in the woods. I grew up in a family that enjoyed the outdoors and much of my youthful summers were spent on family camping trips. Back during my high school years the required reading in one of my English classes included Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. That book became one of my favorite reads in school, and it continues to be a welcome part of my library even today. During 1854 Thoreau wrote in Walden: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

During my trek in the Itawamba woods yesterday, I came upon many colorful plants and an area of mossy tree stumps – remnants of a logging operation from years past in the dense forest. Upon a clearing an old home place appeared with the perimeter of the old yard being marked with Eastern Redbud trees in full bloom. I’ve always been partial to the redbud tree. The hills and valleys of Itawamba County are painted this time of year with the pinkish purple blooms of this native tree. According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, this tree is native to North America and Canada. First cultivated during 1811, the Spaniards noted Redbuds and made distinctions between the New World species and their cousins in the Mediterranean region during 1571. George Washington recorded in his diary on many occasions about the beauty of the tree and spent many hours in his garden transplanting seedlings obtained from the nearby woods.

Yesterday’s trek into the woods was definitely a special treat. In today’s busy world, it is a delight to explore nature and remnants of times gone by in the beautiful woods of Itawamba County, Mississippi.

Henry David Thoreau portrait (1879) from the Library of Congress (The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920).


Anonymous said...

Bob, your walk in the woods yesterday provided you with just another vision that spells the arrival of spring. And yes, the tiny water droplets hanging onto the delicate redbud flowers shows that the flowers have had a "bath". The combination of the redbud and the Carolina Jasmine share arrivals of spring warnings with two other flowers of trumpet shapes: daffodils and Forsythia. Ironically, the other announcement of springtime can be enjoyed from the warmth of the inside: all the gardening seed and plant catalogs arriving in our mail boxes and the start of a new year of golf tournaments! bettye

Bob Franks said...

I had forgotten about the seed catalogs Bettye. When I was a kid, the seed catalogs were always fun to read. However, the vegetables shown in the illustrations always seemed bigger and prettier than what we grew.

Don Dulaney said...

Hat Tip to you!! I loved the post and the photography was outstanding in catching Itawamba in it beauty. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Besides being much larger in the illustrations, those plants as photographed were always such perfect specimens of what we wished to grow - never any brown or yellow edges or holes left in cabbages etc. from the cabbage worms! One year I decided to grow brussel sprouts and they were getting almost large enough to pull from the stalk as I observed them one day and then, the next day I discovered that they were wonderful fodder for some type of black bug that was crawling all over the plant. In an attempt to save our garden, we had to pull the brussel sprout plants up. By the way, I have been told that planting nasturtiums as a border plant in the garden will keep those undesirable plant destroying bugs away. Has anyone ever tried this? bettye

Bob Franks said...

Thanks for the hat tip Don. Bettye, I remember around these parts when I was a kid folks would plant a row of marigolds in the garden. Once I asked my mom why folks did this and she said it was to help keep the bugs out of the garden. Gardens were always so pretty with that long row of flowering plants.