Milkmaid: Sweet Herald of Spring

milkmaid or Cardamine californica
Cardamine californica

Fresh and blushing pale pink like an English Milkmaid, Cardamine californica is the first wildflower to bloom on our land.  Every year around the middle of February, I find this dainty foreteller of spring.  This year, I found it the earlier than ever before.

 

Difficult to photograph, this lovely little flower nestles in light woods and partial shade. The light flowers and dark leaves make focusing on it frustrating (don’t ask how many shots had to be discarded before I got this one). Known to most locals by its nickname, Milkmaid, that designation is a problem.  Many different flowers in many places are called by that title.  Worse, many seemingly different plants go by the label, Cardamine californica, each area has a variation on the plant so that an area of Southern California might have a version that grows to a foot tall and has white flowers while ours rarely reaches 8 inches and is usually a pale pink.

 

I have heard that the leaves are similar to watercress and can be used in salads.  I’m so reluctant to harm such a beauty that I’ve never tried it out.  Besides, another nickname, Bitter Cress, deters me.

 

Not only is the plant beautiful in itself but butterflies love it.  Often on warmish days in February, an odd drowsy butterfly surprised to find itself awake so prematurely flutters around the blooming maid delighted to find a food source so early in the year.  Yesterday, like the drowsy butterfly, I hovered round the flower drinking in the promise of Spring

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22 comments

  • Since it was -7 with the wind-chill this morning, any sign of Spring is appreciated…even though I am partial to the cooler weather of Fall.

  • Since it was -7 with the wind-chill this morning, any sign of Spring is appreciated…even though I am partial to the cooler weather of Fall.

  • I like cooler weather but -7?????? Good Lord, that isn’t even weather. That is deep freeze!

    I guess I’d better not complain about our mid fourties and fog then.

  • I like cooler weather but -7?????? Good Lord, that isn’t even weather. That is deep freeze!

    I guess I’d better not complain about our mid fourties and fog then.

  • Nah, it’s okay….complain all you want. I’m watching videos of socially awkward nerd-girls to stay warm.

  • Nah, it’s okay….complain all you want. I’m watching videos of socially awkward nerd-girls to stay warm.

  • ooo :averts eyes:

    Seriously, have you read Stephen Brust’s new fanfic on Firefly
    http://dreamcafe.com/firefly.html
    I’m enjoying it. He gets the voices pretty well (except for Jayne’s unfortunately) but all in all worth a read.

    Brust wrote several pretty good fantasy pieces a while ago but I haven’t kept up with his work.

  • ooo :averts eyes:

    Seriously, have you read Stephen Brust’s new fanfic on Firefly
    http://dreamcafe.com/firefly.html
    I’m enjoying it. He gets the voices pretty well (except for Jayne’s unfortunately) but all in all worth a read.

    Brust wrote several pretty good fantasy pieces a while ago but I haven’t kept up with his work.

  • I’ve heard of it…but haven’t checked it out yet.

    Normally, I’m not a fan of fanfiction (say that three times fast!)–I find that it’s usually little more than fan wish-fulfilment and rarely captures the mood, tone, and/or characterization of the source material. (Okay, that sounded way more pretentious than I meant it to, I’m sure there’s some really talented people out there writing it…and, as a kid, I certainly wrote my fair share.) I guess I’m just overly protective of certain characters–I mean, have you seen some of the really weird Kaylee/Wash stuff people have written??

    Anyways…was this the one that was supposed to be officially published at one point?

  • I’ve heard of it…but haven’t checked it out yet.

    Normally, I’m not a fan of fanfiction (say that three times fast!)–I find that it’s usually little more than fan wish-fulfilment and rarely captures the mood, tone, and/or characterization of the source material. (Okay, that sounded way more pretentious than I meant it to, I’m sure there’s some really talented people out there writing it…and, as a kid, I certainly wrote my fair share.) I guess I’m just overly protective of certain characters–I mean, have you seen some of the really weird Kaylee/Wash stuff people have written??

    Anyways…was this the one that was supposed to be officially published at one point?

  • Yes, it was. There is no weird relationship stuff (you think Kaylee/wash is bad. I stumbled on a Mal/Jayne BD piece that left me with images too horrible to bear.) Brust’s isn’t a great story but sometimes the characters really live again. And I do miss them.

  • Yes, it was. There is no weird relationship stuff (you think Kaylee/wash is bad. I stumbled on a Mal/Jayne BD piece that left me with images too horrible to bear.) Brust’s isn’t a great story but sometimes the characters really live again. And I do miss them.

  • Well, with such a glowing endorsement, how can I resist? I’ll check it out.

    Thanks!

  • Well, with such a glowing endorsement, how can I resist? I’ll check it out.

    Thanks!

  • Such a dainty little flower. Spring has sprung!

  • Such a dainty little flower. Spring has sprung!

  • Great picture and even better description . . . flowers are tough to photograph for me, I never seem to get it right. I think I’m unwilling to commit to getting to eye level perhaps, I try to tower over it all and compensate with zoom. With the current ground blizzard raging outside my window its nice to imagine a first flower of spring blooming somewhere . . . . .

  • Great picture and even better description . . . flowers are tough to photograph for me, I never seem to get it right. I think I’m unwilling to commit to getting to eye level perhaps, I try to tower over it all and compensate with zoom. With the current ground blizzard raging outside my window its nice to imagine a first flower of spring blooming somewhere . . . . .

  • I’m not happy with the photo. I didn’t capture the delicacy of the pink and the little details of the stamens and anthers. Hopefully, I’ll get better.

    I love the eagles and the beauty that you convey of the snow but…I’m glad I’m here!

  • I’m not happy with the photo. I didn’t capture the delicacy of the pink and the little details of the stamens and anthers. Hopefully, I’ll get better.

    I love the eagles and the beauty that you convey of the snow but…I’m glad I’m here!

  • Pingback: Pink and Pretty in Time for Valentine’s–Milkmaids Bloom « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: Pink and Pretty in Time for Valentine’s–Milkmaids Bloom « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

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