Modest milkmaids by the creek.

The main thing I brought back from my hike with friend Polly — our first-ever such outing together — was tired feet. We had walked on a hilly trail for a solid two hours, along an unnamed creek, around an unnamed pond, through areas that were burned in the fires of 2017 but are healing.

Or was that truly the main thing…? We didn’t have an exciting adventure, though Polly did spot a salamander and then a snake down in the grass where the sunlight dappled, and I managed to see them, too before they wiggled or slithered away.

The pictures I carried home in my phone were nothing extraordinary, because flowers are just beginning to appear in the oak forest. But this morning I began to identify the lily pictured at top, and for the first time opened the phone app “Seek” from iNaturalist. It showed me seasonal flora and fauna “species nearby,” and right there, in the first photo they showed me, were the modest and sweet blooms I had bent to peer at yesterday while Polly waited patiently. They are milkmaids, Cardamine californica, said to “invoke the promise of approaching springtime.”

It was a beautiful and sunny day, nearly 80 degrees, but most of our walking was in the shade. When we saw familiar clumps of leaves from which we know that heuchera flowers and iris will emerge in their time,  we agreed that it would be best to return every week to watch these developments. But neither of us wants to hike alone in these hills; we don’t want to be without a friend if we should happen to encounter a cougar or a crazy human or whatever. It remains to be seen if Polly and I can manage to hike together very often. If we do I’m sure you’ll read about it here.

The last thing I noticed just before we got back to the trailhead was a bay tree, and a healthy patch of newly leafed-out poison oak. Its leaves were still shiny and tinged with red, trailing down from the path to the rocky creek bed.

The tired feet I brought home are fully recovered, and now I see that I’ve gained less tangible but longer-lasting things from our outing, two plants with whom I’m more familiar by having names to go with them. The lily is a fritillaria, probably Mission Bells.

Another achievement of the hike was of a sort that needs to be re-gained frequently if it’s to be of much value, but it will endure a few days on its own. That is the good feeling akin to stacking firewood or swimming a half hour in the pool, the satisfaction of pushing myself and using whatever strength I can muster, hopefully without the injuries that so easily intrude and become their own challenge to recover from.

So I don’t know what the Main Thing was, that I gained yesterday, but I know it wasn’t the tired feet!

10 thoughts on “Modest milkmaids by the creek.

  1. Well, that was quite a hike you and your friend went on. Nice that you had shade to walk in. Do you carry bear spray when you walk in the woods? Might be handy to have on you ‘just in case’.

    The modest milkmaids are lovely. At first I wondered if they were a kind of Orchid. I’m glad you identified them as Fritillaria. I tried growing some from seed one year but was not successful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to walk more often but, like you, prefer not to go alone anymore. It isn’t always easy to find willing companions who are adventurous – that sounds like a wonderful walk you went on – so I go out at least once a week along a tarred road on the edge of town.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That one day in January that I visited a different park in the hills was a national holiday, so I expected that lots of people would be recreating there, and I wouldn’t be completely alone on the trails. Also, I was very familiar with them.

      I’m surprised at myself, and I hope it’s not a permanent condition, but I’m recently a little tired of my neighborhood creek path.


  3. This sounds just wonderful, Gretchen. It’s so nice to have a friend to do something like this with. (I get the sore feet!) You had some lovely finds and your weather looks beautiful, far more pleasant than our big snow of yesterday (though not as big as predicted.) I think your photos are loveyl!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So nice to get out and about. And it is a good sensation to use those muscles! We still have some months of snow ahead. Finding a walking buddy is difficult. Everyone’s schedules are so different. Hope you can walk together often!


  5. What a refreshing outing. I was so buoyed by your comment about spotting new life coming after the 2017 fires. Life follows death, death follows life … the Great Circle He has set in place on our beautiful blue planet.

    Thank you for this wonderful bit of nature with your photos and lovely observations. We’re glad to hear your feet have recovered.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oooh, your hike sounds great, even if your feet more tired! I long for a hike but it was so miserable when we did our 10mile hike in January and we got SO unbelievably covered in mud that it was most unpleasant! The milkmaids are pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

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