In life, as in wildflower searching, unlooked-for delights sometimes take us by surprise. Friday night, after a day of searching along the North Shore, Kelly got a Google alert and discovered that our editor at the University of Minnesota Press had been on KARE 11 TV talking about several books they had published, including our wildflower book and a new picture book of Phyllis’s, The Lost Forest. What a treat!
Today we headed back to Gooseberry Falls State Park to give a wildflower talk and record an audio postcard for Minnesota Public Radio about arctic relicts growing along the north shore of Lake Superior. Arctic relicts are plants that found a foothold in the cold, harsh, rocky shore as the last glaciers retreated. There they persist, far from other plants of their kind growing much farther north.
The morning was magical—mist on the lake, spider webs strung with luminous dots of moisture, the water in the rock pools along the shore silver in the morning light. Chorus frogs croaked in their small pools, waves splashed on the rocks, and we felt incredibly lucky to be in this place at this moment.
After our talk at the visitor’s center and a short walk to see bird’s eye primrose and common butterwort with the folks who had come to the talk, we headed home, making one last stop at Jay Cooke State Park to check out what was blooming there. We followed a trail up into a woods full of flowers: spring beauty, large-flowered bellwort, yellow trout lilies, more sessile-leaf bellwort than we’d ever seen in one place. We even found a new-to-us flower that we tentatively identified as dwarf wild ginseng (although we’ve made this identification of another plant once before and turned out to be mistaken). Mistaken or not, it is always a thrill to see something we haven’t seen before.
And even though you might think people couldn’t get lost on the well-marked trails of a state park, we did. We finally managed to find our muddy way back to the swinging bridge across the St. Louis River, which was in full, roaring flood. We headed home filled with four days of native wildflowers, an abundance of time spent in forests, a resolution to always take a trail map with us no matter what, and gratitude for all the signs of second spring we found in the north country.