On May Day, it seems appropriate to deliver the wildflower pictures I’d promised in an earlier post…especially considering I had to get down and dirty to get them.

The last time you saw this specimen of sessile-leaved bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia, a.k.a. wild oats), it had a fuzzy dog walking behind it. Last week during our laundry-day hike up Beech Hill, Reggie busied himself sniffing and peeing while I busied myself finding and photographing the newly emergent spring flowers: wake-robins, wild oats, hepatica, and trout lilies.

When Reggie and I go woods-walking, we have a fairly predictable pattern: Reggie hangs back to sniff and pee while I charge forward, then Reggie races ahead to explore whenever I stop to investigate birds, flowers, or other objects of interest. In other words, when Reggie and I go woods-walking, we seldom walk together, at least when Reg is off leash: the joy of leash-free walking, in fact, comes from the fact that we each can find our own things to entertain us.

The thing that interested Reggie about this specimen of wild oats wasn’t the flower itself: it was the fact that I’d fallen to my knees to photograph it. When Reggie and I go woods-walking, our individual pursuits are typically divided by height: Reggie sniffs out the low road, and I investigate the high. What better way to explain that Reggie ignores migrating hawks overhead whereas I would have never found the ruffed grouse or turkey that he’s recently flushed.

The only real way to photograph newly emerged wild oats or wake-robin, though, is to get down on doggy level, on all fours or lower. So while I knelt on my haunches to snap my wild oats, I clambered on knees and elbows to look into the nodding head of this wake-robin. (I’d personally be obliged to anyone who can explain why wake-robin is called Trillium erectum given the fact that its flowers, like those of nodding trillium, are almost always droopy.)

By the time I’d spotted an unexpected bunch of hepatica, I’d surrendered all sense of personal propriety, stretching fully prone on the ground to photograph these ground-hugging, downward-facing flowers from underneath. As a Buddhist, I’m accustomed to doing forehead-to-the-floor prostrations in the name of spiritual practice, so sprawling in last year’s leaf litter in the search of One Good Picture isn’t too much of a stretch.

I guess these days when the greening earth is both warm and inviting, the best compliment anyone could offer is to say I’m grounded, sometimes literally. After finishing my grassroots photo shoot with another batch of wake-robins and some particularly cooperative trout lilies, I returned to my car covered with last year’s leaf bits and looking like I’d taken a literal roll in the hay. Sometimes you have to take a dog’s lead and get in touch with the low road, sprawling flat to give the leaf-strewn earth and her greening mantle a honest-to-goodness hug.

    Click over to my coaching website to read more about my upcoming tele-class: The Write Way, a four-week virtual group for writers that starts next week. Now that May is upon us, what better time to pump some lifeblood into a new writing practice or a writing project that’s grown stagnant over the winter months?