Yesterday I walked through a nearby woods a'dazzle with winter anconites. The bright yellow blooms gleamed everywhere on the loamy ground, like bits of fallen sunshine. I took my time—making a few photos, breathing deep the soft, rich air heady with vernal perfumes. It was as fine a way as I knew to enjoy the 68˚F temperatures and to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
I've been visiting this same patch of wild-growing anconites for decades. Winter anconites are naturalized plants rather than natives. Their original range was Europe and parts of Asia. Members of the buttercup family, they are among the earliest plants to bloom—unfurling their cadmium yellow petals about the same time as skunk cabbage or snow trillium in the wild, or snowdrops and crocus in the garden. Some years this particular bunch blooms in late-February amid patches of snow; other years—such as this time around—they don't show themselves until the second week of March.
Unfortunately, my bummed-up knee and hip limited my amble to perhaps a hundred yards before I was forced to drape my backside over a convenient log and take a rest.
I still haven't figured out whether this painful malady is a bout of arthritis, an injury sustained from clambering up and down the stepladder carrying boxes of books into the attic in anticipation of the recent looming flood, or is simply nothing more than the latest manifestation of creeping geezerhood. All I know is that it hurts—a lot. Walking, sitting, even when I'm stretched out on the bed. The pain is sharp and white-hot, like an inserted knife. And intermittent—sometimes it lasts a couple of hours, or until the pills kick in, or it might be bad for a few minutes and then just disappear for awhile. Hot water, heating pads, and sports creams do little. Yesterday I couldn't manage five minutes straight at the desk; today I've sat in relative comfort for several hours already.
After I'd rested awhile, and the throbbing in my knee had lessened from that of sledge-hammer whacks to mere tack-hammer taps, I tried to resume my foray…but the pain started to flare up again so I had to turn around and gimp my way back to the pickup. It was all I could do to get there.
Still, as I said, the pain is much less today. Plus there's more sunshine to enjoy. So I believe I'll see what the ol' joints do in reaction to a little yard raking. The worst that can happen is I'll have to sit in the rocking chair on the deck and watch the river slip sparkling and murmuring along…