050221 jhughes blue flowers

Jack Hughes

Wild flowers on a spring day

After some decent weather in early April, our weather took a turn for the worse and the next two weeks were chilly, windy, wet and even snowy.

Just about the time we grew impatient the winds shifted and a surge of nice spring air arrived this past week and made up for chilly days with temperatures near the 80 degree mark.

Across the woods and meadows you could feel the explosion of spring as it took hold. The weather softened, people came out to play. In the woods the animals were busy with forging, mating and building home to house their little ones. The wildflowers pushed aside the remaining debris of winter and carpeted Mother Natures’ garden with a colorful array of spring beauty.

Above, trees began to leaf out with their spring green and Woody could be heard doing his rat-tat tat looking for a meal for the little ones. In addition to Woody, birds could be seen doing what birds do in the spring and the most pleasant sound to me is that of the Spring Peepers as they call for their mates in our ponds and wetlands.

We love to be outside but a day when the temperatures say goodbye to the 30s and hello to the 70s calls for something special so we decided on a wildflower hike over to the small gorge at Cedar Creek Park just over the line in Westmoreland County at Rostraver Township.

We usually take a picnic but since it was a date we decided on a bite out since Covid has put a damper on visiting restaurants. We were hopeful the Virginia Bluebells would be in bloom as we always enjoy seeing the hillsides covered with these beautiful blue flowers.

Cedar Creek is a special place for wildflower enthusiasts’ and just after parking our car we were treated to a small display of purple Larkspur and within minutes of walking on the trail we encountered several large clusters of my favorite, Blue Eyed Mary’s. These wildflowers grow close to the ground in damp shady sites and have four petals, two white and two blue and are somewhat rare. They are truly spectacular and once you see a cluster like this you will always want to come back for another viewing.

Next up were the Virginia Bluebells which also grow in clusters but favor a sunny and drier environment. We love the way they climb the hillsides and make for a rather stunning display of blue flowers.

Across the gorge we could see the opposite hillside covered with white Trillium which favor the shady hills and bloom from the bottom clear up to the top of the ravine. The entire middle section between the opposite hillsides was covered with yellow Buttercups and lavender and purple Flocks which I must say stole the show due to their abundance and natural beauty.

We visit Cedar Creek every spring. The little park is beautiful and has plenty of walking trails along with the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. A number of picnic tables with a view of the Yough River make for a great eating and resting spot and restrooms are also available and we always find them clean.

Diane and I usually do a picnic but since this was a date we decided to visit the local burger shop and were treated to buy-one-get-one day; a great burger with lettuce, tomato and bacon along with two fries and drinks all for seven dollars.

Wow what a day.

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