In early spring, bloodroot begin pushing up through the half-frozen soil. They are named for the red sap found throughout the plant, most obvious in the rhizomes and leaves. At first, the leaves are closed tight, wrapped around the flower stalks. As the days warm, the leaves begin to open up, and so do the buds. I have read the flowers bloom when it is warmer than 46 degrees. I don’t have a tiny flower thermometer to take their temperatures, but that seems about right. As the days warm, suddenly they pop open, though usually only on the sunniest days. After the sun sets, the flowers fold up neatly, a delicate origami waiting for dawn.
They are fairly rare in my woods, though in a few places they form colonies of a dozen or more flowers. Their blooming time is short. Within a few days of the time I see a perfect new flower open, I notice a steadily increasing pile of petals below, and within a week they have all fallen. The leaves remain, though, growing larger until they finally fade away and go dormant in summer.
I photographed these blossoms still wet from a passing shower, already opening as the sun broke out. Each drop of rain reflects the sheltering forest above. I feel these flowers have lessons to teach us all in their brief urgent days. They search for light, closing up against darkness. They make the most of sunshine, but also need the rain. They are ephemeral, here one day and gone the next. They bring great joy in the moments they flower and leave behind roots that will sustain future flowers. We could do worse than live our lives like flowers, sharing beauty wherever we can.