When I reflect on the spring nearly past, all I see is grey — in skies and clouds, in ceaseless chill rains, in blinding fogs, and in my own imprisoned mood. However, there were excursions, stolen between the raindrops, which reveal the incredible bounty of the Delaware Valley.
Thanks to courageous women, this preserve was saved for all time, to showcase the rarest wildflowers which belong in all the woods and all along the banks of our beloved Delaware River.
BOWMAN’S HILL WILDFLOWER PRESERVE
below New Hope, PA
Stroll with me on the well-tended trails, beautifully restored after Hurricane Sandy’s depredations — so very far from the sea of its birth. Open all your senses, as the work week, this techno-century rarely permit. Inhale the very fecundity of the good earth, celebrated so brilliantly by Pennsylvania’s Pearl S. Buck. Let your ears learn your first phoebe!, phoebe!; the purrrrrr of red-bellied woodpeckers in healthily aged trees; the scree! of a single red-tailed hawk high above the almost leafed-out canopy. Absorb quintessential tranquillity, where the creek’s murmurs and whispers call you ever more deeply into the sacred woods.
Bluebell Sea, Where I Usually Begin my Bowman’s Explorations
It’s worth doing Bowman’s for the Medicinal Trail alone. There I first heard and almost saw the pileated woodpecker dive from tree to tree. There a young boy, –thrilled as I to watch spring’s first garter snakes unwind from winter’s tangle–, splashed into the creek to save a snake who’d tumbled in. Along the creek, forest monarchs rest, Sandy-felled, roots taller than two or three humans standing on one another’s shoulders. I always thank their majesties for their time here.
On the Medicinal Trail’s Bridge, a man and woman told me they’d just seen the (can it be?!) Louisiana Waterthrush. All three of us watched a slender dark furry being curl and curve above the rocks, along the bank. It was so at home, so sure in its hunting. And we remained unsure whether it was mink or marten. Above all, Medicinal Trail holds trillium of many hues and funny names. No one can ever explain the name of the tight red one above (which never opens farther), somehow christened “Toad”.
I’m always so pleased with the wondrous work of Staff and energetic, consummately generous Bowman’s volunteers. Most invasives have been mastered. Trails are well marked, well tended, pretty and inviting. Boardwalks lead over (increasingly) wet spots. Their gift shop is tasteful, gift-wise, and irresistible book-wise. Whoever’s at the desk, usually a volunteer, is always happy to see each visitor and eager to serve.
My only quarrel is that there is no sign on the Medicinal Trail, instructing the un-knowing, such as I, in what each rarity was used to treat — most likely discovered by local Lenapes, long before the concept of fenced preservation came into being.
Take yourself to Bowman’s in all seasons. Ideal habitat for birds, for plants from anemone and twinleaf and bloodroot to prickly pear; and for voyagers, seeking an idyllic world – such as all of America was before we arrived, carrying with us the Anthropocene and all its losses and perils.
Become a Bowman’s member. Join their invasive-pulling volunteers. Attend their black tie and muck boots spring gala. And murmur thanks to those wise early women who knew that saving beauty of this magnitude is essential to the human spirit.
NEW PHOTOS SENT FOR BLOG FROM BRENDA JONES, Fine Art Photographer
My dear friend and superb photographer, Brenda Jones, sends these images of a mink and a waterthrush, found nearby (to Princeton), and therefore likely at Bowman’s. Enjoy her unique artistry!