homepage logo

This spring comes a little early on the Appalachian Trail

By Staff | Mar 20, 2020

A male purple finch perches on a branch in the wild. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Spring is here. The greenery is welcome, and the plants producing flowers and colors have come back a little earlier on the calendar than in most years. Pink Lady Slippers, the white of Trillium and the dainty blue bells are proving to be a respite from the uncertainty and shadows caused by the coronavirus.

Along this area’s Appalachian Trail the trees seem to be swaying with a more gentle rhythm than in recent years. And the warming ground appears to be saying, “the May Apples will be here directly.” So will the ever-popular Jack in the Pulpits and fiddleheads.

Shrubs have shown their first bits of green, giving the deer some sustenance other than the few nuts and browse left from what was mostly a snow-less winter.

The ground never really froze this past winter, giving the early plants their choice to show us their finery a few weeks ahead of past years.

The air always seems to be moving on the Appalachian Trail. Above the tree tops are wispy white clouds, usually scuttering along their merry way. A few small birds have already returned and the soaring raptors and vultures are busy using the thermals that cause the mountain air to rise in their favor.

The trail on both sides of Harpers Ferry will invite more and more visitors, as the flowers brighten any day as much as a rare 70-degree afternoon in early April.

Yellow, star-shaped flowers from the Trout Lily and the deep reds of the Wake Robin’s trillium are two of nature’s finest creations. Small, well-grouped flowers of white are presented by Dutchman’s Britches and the Wild Columbine around rock outcroppings has its small reddish flowers that entice the hummingbirds, if any are around.

The lowest of elevations have been colored by people planting the bulbs of narcissus, daffodils and jonquils that rise to meet the morning sun.

Bubbly little purple finches can be seen. So can chickadees with their chirping tunes and energy of a old-time, metal toy wound too tight.

Most of the songbirds will come later when insects and larva are more plentiful for their yearly broods.

The rivers are now content to come together and have no malice because there is no melting snow or storms with inches of rain like there were in 1936 when a flood carried away the town’s railroad bridges and muddied the so-called “lower town” of then-ravaged Harpers Ferry.

Spring is early. We can be thankful for its soothing ways, here, in the uncertain battle against the coronavirus.