Monday, May 16, 2011

Shoal Lilies at Flat Shoals Creek in Harris County, Georgia

Today I went to see the Shoal Lilies (I know them as Cahaba Lilies, even though they occur in water systems throughout Alabama and Georgia). I had never seen them in person, but they looked so much like the pictures I have studied carefully that I felt I had seen them before. What I had not done was smell them. The fragrance is heavenly. The end of the creek trail led down to the water and I was able to step out on the rocks and walk a good ways into the creek going from dry rock to rock. I got the close-up pictures of the lilies, plus the little purple and white flower on the jointed stem. I am trying to find out what that one is.

I would like to know what this one is. I took several pictures before my camera battery went dead, but still did not get a good one of this flower.

There was such a din upstream that I thought some mechanical or man-made noise was going on. After I found these bugs, I had a better idea, that it was Cicadas making all the racket. They would call for a long time as a group, then the noise would taper off and finally quit for a while, then start again. I knew they were Cicadas when I saw them, but knew they were different from our Dog Days Cicadas in July and August. They made little grunting noises when I picked them up and put them in my pocket, but otherwise they were quite mild and did not even manage to escape my pocket. A little research showed me they were Periodical Cicadas, 13 year Cicadas in fact. The last time this group was out in the adult form was 13 years ago, in 1998.

There were some little index card markers on trees at the end of the trail indicating that continuing would take you to Cook's Cave. I did not know what that was, but I was game and struck out. After a steep walk, but not a bad nor long one, I arrived at a place on the creek bank where the rocks had split, and it made a little cave open to the sky. I imagined  a pirate taking refuge there. The rock above would make an excellent lookout for up and down the creek, and the 4 foot drop down into the hole would put him out of sight immediately. What fun for kids!
There were several wildflowers along the trail, too. Some I knew: Asarum (little brown jugs), wild azaleas (not in bloom), Indian pink, native oakleaf hydrangea, and some plant about knee high that may have been a Viburnum. There were wild blueberries everywhere, some in flower and some in fruit (Yum, delicious and flowery tasting)
Thank you, Mr  Johnson, for opening your property so that people can enjoy this wonderful special place of nature. Your thoughtfulness has provided a great gift to all who will take a short trip off the beaten track . I thank my friend Sarah who alerted me to this wonderful place, and I recommend it to all nature lovers. A little more info and directions to the site can be found here.

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