A SPRINGTIME STROLL IN THE WOODS
— photos by Federico Ravassard and Cesare Lasen
Springtime in the woods is a time of leavening. After a long Winter life awakens, in every corner something moves, as if calling out. An excursion in the woods in Spring is a unique and regenerating experience that reconciles us with life.
Two steps in the woods can be a pleasant break from the work rhythms during the week, just a few hours on a not too demanding terrain with a light and stable hiking shoe like Alterra Lite GTX, ideal for moving in comfort even with a small backpack on the shoulders.
An excursion as easy as it is rewarding, observing how the nature around us is slowly awakening. If you like the idea and if you want to find out what moves in the spring forest, read the short text by Professor Cesare Lasen, a botanist expert in alpine biodiversity. Friend of AKU.
Windflowers are the first flowers in the woods to announce the coming of Spring. In fact, they are called “wind flowers” for their fragile petals which ruffle at the slightest breeze. Even the animals begin a new life. Those who remained in hibernation throughout Winter slip out of their dens and the migratory birds make their way back in flocks. Cuckoos signal the coming Spring with their surprising song which is heard all about the woods, between the end of March and the beginning of April.
With pretty days and little snow, in the sunny strip of pre-mountains (up to 800-900 metres) some types of flowers can be observed in January, and not just primroses. The knowledge regarding blossoming periods allows us to distinguish whether the next season is coming too quickly or too late. This year, if we observe the violets at 600 m (Viola alba, V. hirta, V. odorata) in full bloom long before the end of February, it would mean it’s at least 2-3 weeks early.
It can also be understood through other signals. When ascending in altitude one can tell the season is late in arriving, unless it’s a case of temperature inversion, by noting certain flower types in full bloom long before those on the cold valley floor, where they are conditioned by frost. One such flowers is the narcissus, which usually is noted at 600-700 m in the second half of April, whereas at greater altitude this occurs in the second half of May, and above 1600-1700 m even at the beginning of June.
On the damp cliffs the rare Pinguicula poldinii blooms at the end of April at low altitudes in well exposed areas, but one can also find it blooming in the second half of June at about 1300-1400 m in similar areas.
Each type of flower is unto its own, but a field in bloom changes its look according to seasonal rhythm, which is the synthesis of various factors, from the weather trends to the results of the previous year.
The real “alpine” plants, that is those which live above the forest limits and are conditioned by the duration of the snow, need to produce flowers and fruit before the frost (or snowfalls!) make their efforts to reproduce futile. Therefore, in late Summer different types bloom at higher rather than lower altitudes.
When we cross the woods, we look for the windflowers, those flowers caressed by the wind who announce Spring; we listen to the cuckoo’s song that tells us Winter is no more.
Geobotanist, past president of the National Belluno Dolomites Park, member of the Scientific Committee of the Unesco Dolomites Foundation, author of numerous scientific and informative publications, dedicated to the knowledge of the territory and nature conservation.
>> Watch the video "Cesare, son of San Mauro"
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