Green Up

2008 Green Up Poster by Jasna Numanovic

It might seem odd that a person would really and truly enjoy Green-up day. Around here, it’s on the first Saturday in May that people don gloves and walk the roads to pick up the assorted and sometimes unpleasant litter that misbegotten souls have let fly from their cars and trucks over the preceding twelve months.

The redeeming part is that it is also the exact day when the curtain goes up on the show we know as Spring. Many signs have already alerted us to this grand opening. Wood frogs have been announcing it for a couple of weeks; the little bright purple splashes of the flowers of beaked hazelnut may by now have faded and shriveled, but the real true Spring arrives in my neighborhood on the first Saturday in May. 

As you walk the roads on this fine day, carrying a supply of big plastic bags, the clear yellow of coltsfoot flowers and the vivid green of false hellebore in wet road ditches announce that, truly, it is Spring. No need now to fret over the mental state of the person who tossed that Bud Light can; there are better things to do.

Road habitats vary, which keeps things interesting. On the slightly drier sites, trout lily leaves, if not yet the beautiful lilies, cover slopes with their mottled reds and greens, looking indeed the way a fish appears in a clear stream. Red trillium, a bit picky as to where it will live, may be just about to lift and open its flower blossom, the color of raw beef, in hopes of enticing a fly to rummage around and inadvertently do some pollinating. 

You may come across a barren stretch, or one with indecipherable green shoots; that’s where you can listen for peepers, or phoebes, or a white-throated sparrow. Looking up from your stoop labor, there might be a tree swallow or that earliest of the warblers, the yellow-rumped.

Over the next few months the cast of outdoor characters will be huge. The first Saturday in May is manageable – and delightful.


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