The Blackstone Gorge was on my way home and it is just the right time to look for mountain laurel in this area. The past several years I’ve managed to visit at the right time. As I wandered along the river’s edge, it looked like I was too early. Lots of blossoms were tightly closed. Others were just starting to spread out.
And then I found them–open mountain laurels, their white and pink blossoms just waiting to be enjoyed.
If you can’t visit for a few more days, it’s not too late–by the coming weekend (second full weekend in June) the banks of the Blackstone will be filled with these delicate flowers.
In contrast to the demure mountain laurel show, the river itself is engorged, spilling over its banks with a deafening roar as it squeezes through the Blackstone Gorge. The late spring rains have brought the water levels back up to early spring levels.
We quickly weary of so much rain, but this is still a welcome change from last summer’s drought, preceded by a spring with almost no rain.
The gypsy moths are said to be attacked by a fungus that has developed with all the wet weather, but at least at the gorge the caterpillars appeared to be finding plenty of oaks to chew, and other spots to simply climb around on.
As I headed back up the trail I spotted a lady slipper next to the river in full bloom. It’s been a few years since I’ve spotted one of these beauties. What a nice surprise to find it so close to the river.
The Gorge has been my favorite go-to spot for over thirty years, but it was only in the past several years that I figured out when the mountain laurels blossom here. The gorge is a great spot in any season, but I have special memories of another year in the late spring, sharing the display with my sweet cousin, who happened to visit from Tennessee right when the flowers were at their peak. While she wasn’t with me today, the sweetness of that walk lingers.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.