Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trains, lost cows, and wildflowers.

Cherry trees all over Abingdon are bursting into bloom, along with pears and eastern redbuds. The effect is an explosion of pastels, faint and soft-edged, hovering over the streets in a surreal attempt at clouds. Edges of Virginia Creeper trail sprout crocuses.



We haven’t slept well recently, waking up to the bellowing horns of trains, as they speed by this tiny mountain town on their way to somewhere. Trains fascinate me. They symbolize another world, where solid placement in lower class made certain that public transportation was the only feasible way from one place to another. I don’t exactly miss that world anymore than I miss trash on the streets, and human shit in the bushes, and lack of public water fountains. But just because I don’t romanticize it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hold a certain nostalgia for the old country.

One time last fall, Elrin and I sat on a bench by the Art Depot, just as a massive cargo train roared a mere thirty feet away. We’ve admitted to one another afterwards, that the speedy passage of this machine made us feel a deep unease, a primordial feeling nearing to terror. Very few of its freight wagons were decorated with graffiti, unlike those back home in Champaign. In Illinois, the trains which passed seemed short, painted over and dumpy, disused relics in the world of highways and trucks.

Here, in the mountains, trains remain a force to be reckoned with, roaring down well-maintained railways like some behemoths from the past.


Hiking


El and I have done significant distances on the Creeper Trail, both the stretch starting in Abingdon, and another location closer to Damascus. The latter proved to be a wonderful walk down flower-studded slopes, alongside what I suppose to be Holston river, and one residences too many.



This is a river bank, down which we've traveled some ways before getting back on the trail.



A type of common blue violet, called the confederate violet.



Some spring beauties.



I'm pretty sure that this one's a sharp-lobed hepatica.



Bloodroot is a pretty common spring flower. Its roots can be used for dye of the obvious color.



And a full bloodroot flower! Courtesy of Elrin's steady hand.



This is a corydalis flavula, or yellow fumewart.



Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum commutatum. Both this one and the yellow fumewart were identified by the nice folks at Gardenweb.



We met a calf, which was on the wrong side of the fence..poor terrified bugger.



And a snapshot from the drive back.




Birds

No new bird sightings, surprisingly. Starlings continue to prevail over the surrounding lands, and house finches have increased in number. The resident mockingbird’s been entertaining us in the early mornings with its creative interpretations of other birds. He (or she?) repeats everything two or more times, before moving onto some new sound. Does the bird have a short attention span, or what?

Also, while there aren't any new bird pictures, here's a rather cute spider.




Plants

Here’s a planter update.
Some cucumbers have hatched in the bucket, as of yesterday. Salad greens are coming up, too, though there hasn’t been a sign of scarlet runner beans.
Hyacinths have finished blossoming, only to be replaced by tulips. We've two varieties of those, pure red and pink-with-white-edge.





And the whole planter!