Friend Julie and I did our “Down Dirt Roads” photo excursion last Monday, but went down the paved paths of the Hidden Lake Garden in southern Michigan. This large expanse of land is own and maintained by Michigan State University as part of their Land Grant College mission. They do a wonder job of maintaining the natural landscape of the woods while also having landscaped areas like the conifer gardens and the hosta and wildflower garden.
The hosta garden is the first stop on the one-way driving path and we were excited to see trillium growing in the woods. We made our way, with cautious steps, through last year’s leaves and fallen limbs. Walking on uneven terrain, up and down hills, feels more precarious every year – but the reward still seems greater than the risk. There was a large trunk of a fallen tree that we needed to get over to get the best shots of the trillium and I couldn’t resist sitting for a while. I love the calming stillness of the early spring woods – the birds singing while the sun warms me. It was cold on this morning, cold enough for gloves to be welcome.
I found I was in a gentle, delicate mood and was drawn to photographic images that reflected my mood. Or maybe my mood was in response to this early spring environment. I kept thinking about how delicate and fragile early spring can seem in the northern United States. In a very real sense it is delicate, and fragile, because a couple of nice days doesn’t predict a smooth unfolding of the season. We can get a freeze that destroys the blossoms on fruit trees. When I left the house on this middle of May morning there was still frost on the lawn where the sun hadn’t yet reached.
After quietly and intently photographing the wildflowers growing among the hosta we drove around the end of the hidden lake where the view was at lake level. It’s a hidden lake because it is surrounded by high hills.
On both of our first spring excursions, Julie and I frequently spoke about the multitude of greens and golds of the emerging leaves on the previously dormant deciduous trees. There is such a stark difference once the bare, almost sinister-looking trees start to leaf out. And of course we marveled and took lots of photos trying to capture the graceful beauty of the dogwoods and redbuds blooming along the edges of the woods.
Our next stop was on the stretch of road that goes up and around the west side of the lake. I like stopping here on the road and on this day it wasn’t a problem because there weren’t many people or vehicles. I like stopping here because there is a tall stone retaining wall that allows a different perspective of the wildflowers and trees that grow above.
I stopped using my tripod because there was a breeze gently tossing the more delicate blooms. I figured that if I took enough shots, the moving flowers, my less than steady hands, and the vibration reduction of the lens would all come together for me – and sometimes it almost did.
We continued around the trails, stopping frequently and not wanting to hurry. We have driven this trail before so we know where there may be daffodils and other flowers growing wild. It was a perfect spring day and we wanted it to last forever. We lingered at every stop. It was so beautiful that I even forgot that we had decided to visit a quilt shop in the small town down the state highway before we headed home.
Our last stop was at the arboretum but that will be another post. I hope that you are also able to find some gentleness in this season – or if you are from down under you find it in your transition from hot weather to cold. (What a strange way of saying “from the southern hemisphere.” Do you say that we in the northern hemisphere are from “up over?”)
My photo outing this week fits perfectly with Paula’s Thursday’s Special: Vernal. You need to check out her beautiful photograph and what others are linking to her post.