I wrote earlier about my New Year’s Resolution to get out and explore my park Sky Meadows State Park, looking for beauty and inspiration each day. I have already seen some awesome things, as my daily photos show. You can see some of my pictures online here on the VA State Parks Flickr Photostream.
I want to share two pictures from January that I find particularly inspiring and give you the stories behind them.
Early morning at Sky Meadows State Park on January 8.
The first photo was taken early in the morning on January 8. I arrived early, before Sky Meadows State Park was open to the public. As soon as I had parked my vehicle at the Park Office, the sun finally rose above the summit of Lost Mountain. The cow pasture was half-aglow and in that moment, it seemed to me as though the day held infinite possibilities.
What you can’t see in the picture are the deer grazing in the pasture. As the sun’s light crept across the hillside, it lit up their white tails, and soon, as though spurred on by the spreading warmth, the entire herd bounded away. To me, it was as if they heard Mother Nature’s daily wake-up call and decided not to hit the snooze button.
A week later, I was exploring along the banks of Gap Run. I was searching for something specific. A few of the other rangers had already seen what I now sought and I was determined to find it before the forecasted snow hid it from view. I moved through the leaf litter quickly but gingerly. I didn’t want to accidentally step on the very thing I had come to find. Suddenly, I saw them. Poking up through the decaying leaves and last year’s walnuts, surrounded by mud and stinking to high heaven, were the first flowers of the year – skunk cabbage!
Skunk Cabbage - they smell awful, but are the first signs of spring!
I love these flowers. Sure, they smell like rotting meat, but they are the first signs of life in the otherwise slumbering forest. They hear Mother Nature’s seasonal wake-up call and are the first to get up. Even if the blankets of winter keep being tossed on top of them, they are awake, and ready to go. Seeing the skunk cabbage blossoms, I know that no matter what the groundhog’s prediction may be, spring is on its way.
But for now, I think I’ll hit the snooze button a few more times!
Visit Sky Meadows State Park Year-round
The park is less than two miles south of Paris, Va., via U.S. Route 50 to Route 17 South; or seven miles north of I-66, Exit 23 on Route 17 North. The park's main entrance is on State Route 710.
Its address is 11012 Edmonds Lane, Delaplane, VA 20144-0710.
Drive Time: Northern Virginia, 45 minutes to one hour; D.C., over one hour; Richmond, two hours; Tidewater/ Norfolk/ Virginia Beach, three hours; Roanoke, two and a half hours