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.

First Post – Ben Clark; My Summer Trip to Burnsville, NC

The mountains of Burnsville, NC.(Photo by Ben Clark)
The mountains around Burnsville, NC. (Photo by Ben Clark)

August 2018; it was a week or two before the Fall Semester was going to begin. My family took the closing opportunity to venture away from my rural nesting grounds of Colfax, North Carolina, for a more mountainous scene; Burnsville, North Carolina.

Burnsville is a small but tight-knit town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. My mom has ties to the town, which stem back generations. My sister and I grew up among the giant towers of green, soaking in the fresh air and sunlight like one of the local plants. What struck me the most upon my arrival last Summer was how different the air felt from my normal stomping grounds around the Greensboro area. The air buzzed with the richness of oxygen. It felt cleaner; felt because I believe you can experience air beyond smell.

During my family’s return to Burnsville, we decided to brave the frigid waters of the Toe River. Although it was summer, the water felt like January. My sister and I could only submerge once or twice, while our dad channeled the likeness of a breaching whale and frolicked magestically throughout the icy waters.

My sister and I braving the Toe River.
(Photo by Diane Clark)
My sister and I braving the Toe River. (Photo by Diane Clark)

While it took me around two hours to regain normal body temperature, I felt closer to nature than I had all summer, and it was a wonderful treat to return to my old stomping grounds with my family and remember what has always sparked my love for the mountains.