It is April 23rd. Teeny while flags fly inches above the soil; clumps of dissected leaves cling effortlessly to the steep east-facing slopes of the Delaware River basin. The Dutchman’s Breeches occupy spaces too hazardous even for garlic mustard. They share space with mosses, last year’s fern fronds, and leaves of dogtooth violet. Skinny chestnut oaks and teenage seedlings of callery pears perch on the rocks above, leaning over the road I travel at precarious 10 percent angles. Root tips probe the cracks of the rocks, thickening, and exploring the depths of the crevices, holding the ever-increasing mass of the leaning towers in place. One day an ice storm will load them up with too many pounds of frozen weight for the clamps to hold. Rocks will pull free; towers will tumble. Still the Breeches will return to greet the spring bumblebees, their reason for being. They will widen their area of occupation, they will fly their flags.
Why do I find this harbinger so inspiring? Maybe it demonstrates that to be tough, we need not be showy. To survive we need not be pugilistic. We just need to find our space and our time, and quietly exert the force within us. We need only discover our niche and fly our perky white flags. When the time is right the buzz will intensify. Pollination will happen.