Just as beautiful as any other place you could see, anywhere

I'm laughed at when I say: New Jersey is beautiful. Just as beautiful as any other place you could see. Since I am always looking for confirmation, especially after a trip to lovely South Carolina, I took three walks this weekend. I didn't have to look hard, but I did look closely.

Wood Anemone, a face we all can love. This ephemeral carpeted moist, rich soils. It shows a surprising amount of variety in its leaf size, but not its flowers. I noticed several dense clumps hugging exposed tree roots. The leaves were particularly large, but no flowers or buds.  Was it a good place to germinate?

Shelf fungi with one of our earliest spring flowers - those of the red maple. This one was nibbled by a squirrel, I believe. Elsewhere, the forest floor was covered with fresh buds of ash or sugar maple. 

A mossy log is a good place to visit.

Spicebush leaves are emerging. I'm particularly fond of spicebush - in June and July a walk through a spicebush thicket is healing and refreshing. The fragrant oils of the plant are released by the gentlest touch.

Spring ephemeral seeds are ant dispersed. Often tiny, shiny and black, these seeds come with a fatty, sticky treat for ants called an eliasome. The ants collect the seeds, eat the eliasome, and toss the seeds. Do ants like to toss their trash in containers like this beech root?

Ants do a better job hiding their junk than we do. This balloon was one of three I found near my home this weekend. I really dislike these things.