April 9–gettin’ hot hot hot

April isn’t the hottest month of the year, far from it.  But there’s something about those first few hot days of April that is even more intense than the significantly higher temperatures of late spring and summer.  First, because you just aren’t used to it.    It’s literally 30 degrees warmer today than it was a week ago; it’s a lot to adjust to in such a short time.  And second, because the trees still mostly don’t have their leaves, there’s no shade, and the ground feels extra-exposed to the harsh intense sunlight.  We’ve had plenty of rain over the past couple of months, and we’re nowhere near drought conditions, but the intense sunshine and unaccustomed hot dry wind of the past few days has made the ground feel dried out and tinderbox-y.   While I, as much as anyone, was ready for winter to give way to spring, this week has a bit of a “too much too soon” feel to it.

Did my weekly tofu delivery in C’ville again today, and if I thought the flowering trees would be less impressive than last week, then I was mistaken.  If anything, the floral displays all over the city were even more spectacular– if anyone ever wants to fall in love with Charlottesville, I would recommend visiting this time of year!Image

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Just before lunch, I stopped in a bit of park where I had found lots of oyster mushrooms during fall and early winter.  No ‘shrooms (maybe because it’s too dry now? still too early in the year?), but the brambly undergrowth had greened up nicely, creating a prickly leafy mass that was easy on the eyes but you sure wouldn’t want to walk through it.Image

After finishing my delivery, I went back to the trails below Monticello, intending to go for a little walk.  Honesty compels me to admit that most of my “hike” consisted of walking a quarter mile to a grassy, shady spot underneath some pine trees, taking a nice little nap, then meandering back to the truck.   At mid-day it was just too sunny to do more than that.

This stinky bush was covered with bees, as though the entire bush was giving off a low humming sound.   (as I’ve written before, I wish I could share smells and sounds in this blog as well as sights– the sticky-sweet smell of this particular plant hung in the air like a thick cloud)Image

Another photo, showing how massive it all was.  I really should get more scientific about identifying all these plants, so that this can be more like a “real” nature blog.Image

First fly of the year, pestering me as I napped.  Not nearly as lovely as the flowers, but an unavoidable byproduct of the warm season.Image

This particular wildflower (which after a bit of internet research I discovered is a cut-leaved toothwort), was abundant under the trees– I figure it’s soaking up as much sun as possible before the leaves come out.  The insect slurping up the nectar was quite pretty, too.Image

I’ve been seeing these purple-stemmed raspberry-looking brambles all year.  Now they’re growing leaves.  I’m curious what sort of berry they will have and if it will be tasty.Image

There’s no green quite as intense as that of a leaf just beginning to open.Image

Back at Twin Oaks, I was walking through the courtyard, and noticed that parts of the ground are quite literally carpeted with purple and white violets.  pretty!Image

This is the single most impressive cherry tree on the farm (unfortunately the photo is a bit backlit).  Most years, the tree flowers spectacularly for a few days, then the leaves come out.  This year, it all seems to be happening at the same time, so the flowers aren’t quite as amazing as I’ve seen in past years (or in C’ville just this morning!) Image

I swear I saw this very plant just yesterday– literally yesterday– and there weren’t any flowers on it.  And now it’s covered with ’em.  Things happen fast this time of year, I guess.Image

The peach trees in the Morningstar orchard are still covered with pink flowers, but they’re starting to leaf out as well.  As I returned home, I watched a micro-drama, in which a fat bumblebee, joyfully burying itself in flower after flower, was challenged by a usurper who, despite the abundance of peach blossoms, was determined to drive away the first bee.  After lots of frenetic circling around one another, both of them flew off with the second bee in hot pursuit.  As we go about our lives and dramas, the bugs and flowers go about theirs; we mostly don’t notice theirs, and they surely don’t give a damn about ours! Image

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