American Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum

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Hikers flock to Raven Cliff Falls Trail for the rush of falling water, but a trip in early April offers subtler beauty along the way.

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Since ninety-nine percent of trout lily plants are non-flowering, the illusive perennials pictured above are one-percenters thriving in the mountains of White County.

Lofton Creek

Lofton Creek Black Water Mirror

 

Aquatic wanderlust began developing around puberty. Oblivious to the primordial black water flow beneath Highway A1A, my friends and I started crossing the bridge over Lofton Creek in 1992. A couple older brothers with cars finally convinced us devout skaters to give surfing a go, so whenever waves broke on Amelia Island, we loaded up the surfboards at the crack of dawn and piled into Bill’s orange VW Vanagon (with the pop top camper), or Gabe’s brown Buick Station Wagon (with our favorite rear-facing “way back seat” to make faces at cars behind us). Fugazi’s “Repeater,” or Bob Marley’s “Legend” blared from open windows while we envisioned rare perfect waves at the end of the familiar 40 minute car ride. Bleary-eyed, we noticed little else along the way.

Landlocked in North Georgia now for almost two decades, I surf only a few times a year, but kayaking has become the surrogate sport. After a few hundred trips across the same bridge, Lofton Creek (not the Atlantic) was the first destination when I migrated home to the coast this summer.

 

Spanish Moss Covered Cypress

 

Paddlers slip boats down the Melton Nelson Boat Ramp into a prehistoric world (more so once out of earshot from highway traffic). Many of the haunting spanish moss draped cypress trees that give the tannic water its signature sweet tea hue are over 500 years old. Paddle north to meet a cypress that’s been growing for over 2,000 years.

 

Pickerel Weed Flower

 

Viridescent pickerelweed clumps subtly announce narrow entrances to Lofton Creek’s labyrinth (where wayward paddlers easily get lost).

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Pickerelweed and Cardinal Flower

 

A sole cardinal flower rises above pickerelweed.

 

Lofton Creek Sound Cloud

 

Southbound, the hardwood forest gradually transitions into salt marsh soundclouds.

 

Mirrored Lofton Creek

 

Canopy submits to blue sky.

Estival Starts

Sunflower Start

Sprouted from fallen kernels, two young sunflowers occupy the southwest corner of the vegetable bed among okra and Thai red pepper comrades. Welcome.

Solanum Starts

The first tomatoes appear mid-June amidst hopes of an extended growing season (likely, if this winter’s as mild as last).

Flowers in the Hood

This afternoon I walked to school to check on our class vegetable bed and take some photos along the way.  During the school year, the morning walk takes between ten and fifteen minutes.  Avian neighbors’ songs become familiar, as do annual changes in foliage, and the comfortable smells of breakfast.   Continue the tour…