Weston Ecotour first of the year

Any time you feel Southern Indiana's lack of mountains, oceans, ancient forests or major rivers relegates it to second-class status in the cosmos of natural beauty, take a hike on Nebo Ridge. Or, better yet, show someone from a far-off destination that boasts all those natural wonders some of ours. You'll gain perspective.

I had the opportunity to do both in the past week and posted photo albums from each on the Natural Bloomington Photo Album page.

Timing and weather combined last Sunday for a long-planned trek along the Nebo Ridge Trail in southeast Brown County I wrote about in a Sunday Morning Nature Missive a few weeks ago.

I kept a watchful eye for early-April ridge top wildflowers and, frankly, was mostly disappointed until I reached a patch of cleft phlox lolling in the sun about two miles in. The sun illuminated their rose-purple, notched lobes brilliantly. To the knees I dropped with my macro lens.
The temperature rose from the 40s to the 60s, and on the way out the trail was speckled in places with delicate bluets and spring beauties. I came out with a Photo Album of wildflowers, a bold-patterned red admiral butterfly who posed for a while, a brilliantly marked bearing tree and other early-spring, deep-forest imagery.
While I had given some thought to the 2016 ecotour season, I hadn't planned any until I received an email from Bay Area photographer Janine Weston on Wednesday asking if I could take her and husband Abe out on Saturday morning. The IU School of Informatics brought him to town, and they wanted to soak up some Southern Indiana nature before flying back west Saturday evening.
My West Coast guests preferred sightseeing with short stop and walks over strenuous hikes through the hill country. In three hours they experienced rushing falls and icy-cold trilliums, bluebells, dogtooth violets, toothworts and other wildflowers at Leonard Springs Nature Park, old-growth tulip poplars in Latimer Woods, bald eagles and egrets at Stillwater Marsh and primed-for-spring flower gardens once tended by Selma at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.
"Beautiful," was a common refrain. And that's by California standards.
Here's a Photo Album from the day.

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