Spring green has reached the top of Brush Mountain!
I live just off of Prices Fork Road, so whenever I leave home, I get to drive parallel to Brush Mountain and have a good view of it over the fields of corn (right now they’re just fields of yellow cress) and grazing cattle.
I watch the mountain, see the seasons change over its great, sloping face, that looks somehow like a great expanse of clay shaped by a massive hand whose fingers carved the hollows, squeezing ridges up between them.
My husband swears that my love of nature will have me drive the car off the road one day. He’s probably right. I can’t honestly swear that my attention is fully focused on the road when I’m looking out my driver’s side window exclaiming “Look! At the crest of the mountain! One of the trees has gone bright green!”
But today it has! I must get out to hike the Gateway Trail up the side of the mountain this afternoon to see how spring is spreading – watch the weeks reverse as I climb higher and higher. Brush Mountain peaks at 3,100 feet, while Blacksburg sits at 2,080 feet. My internet research says that spring moves up the mountainside at 100 feet per day. A little bit of math tells me that with each step up the mountain, I’ll travel backward in time over the last week and a half, seeing:
- Trees at the bottom mostly leafed out, with half-size, peridot green leaves obscuring the view of birds’ nests already
made, some full of eggs, some with fledglings already squawking at mom and dad for food. Dogwoods here are in full bloom or just past it. Yellow and white violets blooming all over the forest floor, and maybe white and pink trilliums, too.
- Higher up I’ll see trees just beginning to leaf out, their seeds (“helicopter” samaras on the maples, dangling catkins on the birches) more prominent than their leaves, making the trees appear more yellow or orange than green. Dogwood bracts (what look like the petals of their flowers are actually specialized leaves) smaller and still growing. Redbuds and trees in the fruit family (cherries, apples, and pears) in full bloom.
- Up at the crest there will be but one or two trees showing green, most still those
precious gem colors of earliest spring’s blossoms – ruby and garnet reds for the red maples, citrine for the sugar maples. Yes, maples blossom first around here; their sap starts running in late winter (which is why maple syrup harvesters – heaven bless them – freeze themselves going out to check their taps as early as February).
And the thought of hiking to the top of Brush Mountain only makes me long to check out the even higher mountaintops. Today I’ll hike the Gateway Trail, this weekend I’ll aim for the trails around Mountain Lake, situated on Salt Pond Mountain, which peaks at 4,360 feet – so high it’s called a “sky island”.
I’d like to see what’s blooming in the “sky”, and feel the pure pleasure of walking into spring on the way back down.