Triad Park: So. Much. Sneezing.

Well, it’s Spring. You know what that means, right? Leafy trees? Sunshine? Nope. Sneezes. So much sneezing. Normally I am enamored with the park even more during the warmer months, but specifically during the month of April, the pollen gets to me. As I am sure that it’s affecting my fellow Guilfordians, it sure is affecting the attendance at the park. What is commonly a semi-full parking lot has been reduced to my car and a few stragglers. We’re the touch bunch, I guess. That’s what a lady that I normally see walking on the trail said to me yesterday; “We’re the diehards.”

Granted, yesterday, there was a tornado watch in effect and the air reeked with uncertainty, but I took what she said to heart. While many other hikers on the trail would shy away during the “yellow months” (and during tornado watches), that woman and I hike on. Luckily yesterday it was sunny enough outside to capture just how much pollen is in the air. I could feel it in my throat, and this time I could actually see it in the air, like a foreign cloud.

Can you see the pollen cloud? It’s the hazy stuff among the green of the trees. (Photo by Ben Clark)

One of the trees on the trail that I saw the most pollen drift from is the tulip poplar. These trees, also referred to as Liriodendron tulipifera by science, are one of the more common trees around the hiking trail. What gives their identity away are the tulip-like flowers that grow among the leaves. I have some around my house, so it’s easy to identify the species everywhere else that I encounter them. A fun fact about tulip poplars is that they are the tallest eastern hardwood. Additionally, they are also referred to as “tulip trees.” While tulip poplars are pleasing to the eye, the pollen that they disperse messes up my whole sinus thing. Not a fun experience to undergo (as you know).

Common blue violets. (Photo by Ben Clark)

Every time that you hike on the Triad Park trail, you pass the creek in close proximity. While I was on the trail yesterday, I noticed a patch of common blue violets (also known as “wild violets” or Viola sororia). In all my times hiking on the trail, I have never come upon these flowers, especially around the creek. When I found a patch of them (as seen in the photo above), I could not resist capturing a photo of them. These flowers are a reminder about all the different walks of life that rely on the water of the creek in order to thrive. Water really is a precious gift. One cool thing about water is it flushes pollen out of your system, and at least in my case, relieves the grainy sensation that pollen makes my throat experience. Thank you, water.

The creek at Triad Park. (Photo by Ben Clark)

Another cool thing about the forest of Triad Park is that it is littered with wild dogwood trees. These trees, also referred to as Cornus florida, have beautiful white flowers that bloom in the springtime. If you hike on the trail, you will be able to spot a good number of them in the surrounding wilderness. I have a few of them around my home, so as is commonly the case with other familiar trees, it’s a nice treat to catch them in the wild.

Triad Park: The Sounds and Life of the Forest

The Triad Park woods on a warmish day. (Photo by Ben Clark)

Triad Park is a sensory overload. Once you enter the woods, you see the towering evergreens, oaks, and maples swaying in the wind. Through them, Thrushes (in the spring), Sparrows, and Carolina Wrens hop and flitter on their way, basking in the beauty of the trees around them. Once they know of my presence, they either cautiously observe me or move along. The squirrels are braver than the birds. They have their eyes set on some nuts. While the birds and the squirrels meander through the forest, something else is bustling.

Beyond the sights of the woods, the sounds that accompany it are just as satisfying to experience. For instance, there’s a creek that runs through a large chunk of the trail. It provides sounds far more soothing than any jazz track or top 50 hit could attempt to create. In the creek, there exists a small universe of life; tadpoles swim about, ready to grow some legs and walk into their next phase of existence. During my childhood, my mom often took my sister and I down to the creek where we put a few tadpoles in a “bug-box” (a plastic container with holes poked in the lid) and slowly nursed them into frogs, which we then released back at the spot where we found them.

The creek at Triad Park. (Photo by Ben Clark)

Apart from the gentle sounds of the creek, there is always the soothing humming of the wind rolling through the forest. On windy days, the trees bend (and sometimes snap) to the wind’s blustery will. However, what may seem chaotic to others is actually quite soothing to me…as long as a tree doesn’t fall on me. When I don’t hear the creek, the gentle breeze that walks the woods with me is always a welcome sound.

When there is not an excess of wind, I usually encounter a few interesting birds on my walk. One of these birds is the Red-bellied Woodpecker, or Melanerpes carolinus, as science likes to call it. These birds are native to the area around my home as well, so seeing them in another place is a wonderful sight. They usually breed in the eastern United States, which is probably why I see so much of them around here in the Guilford/Forsyth County area in North Carolina. Triad Park is on the border between Forsyth and Guilford County but is technically considered a part of Forsyth County. These details don’t matter to the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Another type of woodpecker that is fond of Triad Park is the Pileated Woodpecker, whose scientific name is Dryocopus pileatus. Its distinct call lets its presence be known. However, I have only just come to memorize it. Before, I usually was confused until my mom pointed out that the sound belonged to the Pileated Woodpecker. One of the things that helped me memorize its identity is relating the call to the black-feathered body that I usually see swooping from tree to tree after hearing its call. Another point of memorization is the spot of red on its head. Its also a large bird, so being able to see it is rarely an issue. Triad Park’s wide array of wildlife is the main reason that I continue going back there. With each visit, I never know what I may encounter!

A Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) that I spotted while hiking on the trail. (Photo by Ben Clark)