Welcome to the world of time travel – Greenville News

6 months ago Comments Off on Welcome to the world of time travel – Greenville News

For gardeners, naturalists, explorers … it is literally possible to travel back in time.

After a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway this weekend, I was able to do that. It wasn’t a huge leap across the centuries – it was just a few weeks prior to today – but it was dramatic nonetheless. What I was able to experience was a second coming of spring.

For a brief period at the beginning of spring and then again at the beginning of fall, the higher in elevation you travel or the further north you go, the further you travel in time. In the spring you travel backwards. In the fall, you are literally able to see what lies in the future.

The more attuned to nature you are, the more you are able to enjoy this experience.

At present, here in the Piedmont, we are in the middle of what is turning out to be another typically glorious spring. The early blooming trees such as redbud, serviceberry and dogwood have bloomed out. The leaves on the hardwoods have fully established themselves. New growth on shrubs and plants is in full vigor. Our spring is well on its way to a successful completion.

Not so in the higher elevations. New growth is at the stage it was four weeks ago in the Piedmont. In fact, in the highest elevations, new growth has not even begun. In those areas, winter is still the dominant season. Winter in May? The higher in elevation you go, or the further north you travel, you can travel back in time all the way to winter.

There is something special about the beginning of spring. If you can remember way back about four to six weeks ago, you can remember how special it is to see long forgotten plants bravely poking out their new growth for all the world to see. Plants that have faded into the background of winter dormancy suddenly burst forth in a blaze of glory. Spring means life. To the ancient Romans, the beginning of spring was the beginning of the new year.

I was reminded of just how short my memory is. I had already forgotten how inspiring it is to see beams of sunlight illuminating fresh, virginal leaves. Leaves glow in early spring. They are purified innocence, full of promise.

A mountainside full of new leaves shows the face of the forest. And, it exhibits the most subtle of color changes, with each slight variation in the shade of green denoting a different species of trees. The pale green leaves of oaks, the paler green of poplars and then the slight color variations of birch, maple, hickory and beech all paint a picture of new life in every pale shade of green imaginable.

In the mountains, the serviceberries are in their glory. Many times it’s hard to find serviceberries in the forest. They usually blend in with other woodland cohorts. This weekend, however, the unclad mountainsides were dotted with serviceberries blooming white in defiance of winter drabness.

Spring wildflowers were in bloom. Golden ragwort, dwarf crested iris, columbine, bleeding heart and green and gold were just beginning to show their proud mantles of beautiful flowers. These plants are soon to fade from the Piedmont landscape.

Rhododendron veseyi was in full bloom. This plant is a large growing deciduous azalea that only grows in the North Carolina mountains. It blooms a glorious shade of pink. The common name is pinkshell azalea. The flame azaleas (Rhododendron calendulaceum) were just beginning to show their brilliant orange spring blooms.

Another wonderful feature of the North Carolina mountains at this time of year are the flowering deciduous magnolias. Large creamy white flowers seemed to resemble bowls of color floating on the forest tops. A real treat, and in several cases the mountainsides sparkled throughout with their blooms.

A day trip to the higher elevations is a step back in time. It this case the occurrence is seasonal, but time travel can also occur on a daily basis. Whenever you travel to the west, you gain a few minutes on Father Time. The sad news, however, it that when you travel east, that time is lost.

For most of Greenville County, the western horizon ends with the Blue Ridge Mountains, and in particular Caesar’s Head. When you travel to the top of Caesar’s Head, a new horizon develops. The horizon shifts. When that horizon shifts at dusk, the effect is noticeable. Suddenly, you have more daylight in front of you than you had behind you. It’s like traveling fifteen minutes backwards in time. Just when you thought the day was done, it gets one final gasp of extended time.

Welcome to the world of time travel. Mankind has been fantasizing about this forever, but, in fact, we have the ability to time travel almost on a daily basis. Congratulations! You have superpowers you never knew. All it takes is a little imagination, and the ability to be attuned to nature.



Welcome to the world of time travel – Greenville News

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