The aptly named Spring Beauty, or Claytonia virginica, is always the first wildflower to appear here at Adirondack Lifestyle headquarters. This year was no exception. Also as usual, I smelled the flowers before I saw them.
I was surprised, however, when I caught their sweet scent on the light morning breeze this morning. Vegetation in my neighborhood, a few miles outside the Village of Lake Placid at elevation 2,200 feet, is still mostly brown and tan; there is very little green out there. Because of the snowless winter, the Adirondack region had little snowmelt to create the famous mud season and vibrant chartreuse shoots of new growth that normally define spring in the Adirondacks. Last year’s leftover weeds and flora are brittle and dry. Conditions are so dry and warm in the Adirondacks and throughout New York State right now, that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) fire danger map has the entire state listed at a “High” risk of forest fire, and residential brush burning is prohibited until May 15.
I digress, sorry. Back to the flower walk during which I thought it should be too early for Spring Beauties to be blooming in Lake Placid, but I smelled them. As a matter of fact, I indignantly thought, we should still be backcountry skiing in those Adirondack Mountains I saw off in the distance. My nose didn’t lie. I spotted the fragrant blossoms when I dropped my gaze from the barely snow-dusted mountains, looked closely at the ground and found their delicate petals hidden in the weeds.
I suppose you think this is where I encourage my fellow winter sports enthusiasts to look on the bright side and appreciate the early arrival of a pretty flower. Wrong. An early wildflower season is small consolation for a bad ski season and wildfires are no laughing matter. But, yes, at least flowers are pretty.