Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First wildflower of Spring

Some say it's skunk cabbage. Some say it's false anemone. Some say it's snowdrops. We say it's hipatica, and we love hipatica best.

Whatever you think the first flower of spring is around these parts, head out to one of the region's finest wilderness tracts, Lake Maria State Park, and conduct your debate on nature's stoop. Located out West about 40 miles near Monticello, Lake Maria is -- along with Nerstrand''s Big Woods -- one of the last large stands of hardwood savanah left in Minnesota. Knobs of oak, basswood, and maple divide the sedgegrass wetlands from the blackwater lakes.

It's a great time of the year to daycamp, or try reserving one of the camper cabins: Squirrels are trashing through last year's leafy litter, and if you know where to look, you'll find delicate white, pink, and purple hipatica painted against the browns and blacks of winter's residue.

Lake Maria State Park,