Ten 'til eight o'clock am. I pull into the parking lot of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Center in Williamstown, West Virginia hoping that I am not late. This day I am to be a guest to the Mountwood Bird Club's annual wildflower excursion.
I take about five seconds to relax and breath for I've been hurrying all morning to pack my lunch, binoculars, jacket and, of course, my camera. Finally I notice that I am the only car in the parking lot. . . Uh-oh. . . People should already be here by now. After a frantic phone call, I find out that, no, I'm not on the wrong day, but I am at the wrong visitor's center. Williamstown only has one stoplight but it has two visitors centers so I zoom across town,anxiously trying to keep my speed below the required, and very slow, 25 mph. I pull into the correct parking lot at 8:00 exactly. How embarassing to be the new kid and late, too.
We take a few minutes to decide who will ride in which car and quickly take off for the wilds of Ohio. Our first stop off the highway is between two backwater areas and I am immediately rewarded for my hectic morning struggles. There before me, across the water, is a double-crested cormorant sunning itself. The bird is in non-breeding plummage, but one of the experts has assured me that yes, this is a double crested cormorant. How content he appears, enjoying this beautiful sunny morning. I admire the cormorant's stance - its balance.
We find a couple wood ducks, a kingfisher then pile back into our cars for the next stop.
It is not very long before we again pull to the side of the road, this time at the beginning of a deep bend around a small hay field. The wildflowers were sitting there with their feet in the soil waiting for us to admire their beauty.
Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum biflorum, a relative of Lilly of the Valley stands in the damp soil, its body nodding to shade the delicate flower buds. This one has not yet opened its flowers but will very soon. There are several specimens present here, just a few feet from the road, sharing the light of this clear clean morning with others of its kind, and plants that bear it no resemblance.
Everywhere we look there is another species of flowering plant. I've been told that a short way across the hay field, by the creek, is a group of Virginia Bluebells. I want to see them blooming in the wild. Mertensia virginica, Virginia Bluebells, grow in my own garden, not the same if they were them truly wild. But living in the country and knowing that I don't like having people walk across our hay field without permission, I decide against it. The others agree shortly before the owner appears on his four-wheeler with his dog riding on front. He - the driver- is very friendly and thanks us for not being like some people who just walk right across the field stomping down grass in the process. We skipped the Virginia bluebells this time, but made a friend. I am told that there are many more flowers to be seen. The day is starting out well.