OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEastern Red Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, emerging from its winter slumber on Wildcat Mountain.  Spring is starting now in the mountains, as the earliest species are now beginning to wake up.  Columbines are important to the ecosystem as one of the first natural foods of arriving ruby-throated hummingbirds, and valuable in landscaping because as poisonous members of the Ranunculaceae family they are relatively deer-resistant.  They are uncommon in the Catskills proper but along the eastern edge of the mountains and the Rondout Valley they can sometimes be found in beautiful profusion, usually on less acid soils.

The unfolding of leaves in the cold winds of spring makes me think of Pushkin:

The cold winds are still blowing
And carrying the morning frost.
The first little flowers
Have just appeared through the spring thaw holes,
As though from some miraculous, waxy kingdom,
The first bee has flown out
Of its fragrant honeyed cell,
Flying among the early flowers
To explore the red spring a bit.
Will my dear guest be here soon?
Will the meadows soon turn green?
Will the sticky little leaves
Soon blossom from the fleecy birch?
Will the fragrant chokecherry bloom?

Translation by Stephen Boykewich.