So, as promised, here is a continuation of my ‘cute critters and neat plants’ series. Its springtime in the Appalachian Hills, and that means new life bursting from the loamy corpses of springs and summertimes past. Also, time to gear up for the impending allergy season, but in the meantime, here’s a glimpse of some of springtime’s earliest risers.

This is the Wild Geranium, a lovely purple flower that grows near one of our local lakes. It’s an early-spring bloomer, usually found in shady little hollows and gullies. It’s surprisingly colorful against the still mostly dormant leaf-litter.

This is a Large-Flowered Trillium. It also grows in hollows and gullies and is a very lovely and welcome addition to springtime. The flowers are as pure white as a wedding dress, and very regal in the way they present themselves.

This is one of the largest snail shells I’ve ever seen in the wild. I spotted it from across the road (albeit a very narrow road). The snail was sadly no longer home, but the shell was nonetheless a neat find.

This is (I’m pretty sure, anyway) Yellow Star Grass or Common Gold Star. It’s very pretty, and sounds like what you might name a sentient Sheriff’s badge in a steampunk Wild West comic book. Hey, I would read it.

This is a Rainbow Trout, of which the lake has plenty. I’ve never seen one so close to shore, though. I could have reached down and grabbed it with my hands, if I didn’t mind getting a face-full of stinky water when it inevitably tried to swim away. It was almost a foot long, and even though you can’t see it in the picture, its sides were very iridescently rainbow.

This is a Fire Pink, a brilliant scarlet-colored wildflower. It’s a member of the carnation family of flowers, with visible notches on its petals. Hummingbirds adore this plant with its sweet nectar and bright colors.

And, for no reason other than I love rocks, here’s a neat one I found on the walk. The top piece of the rock flaked off to reveal its insides, and I have no idea if that is some sort of fossil or what. I’ve never seen one like that before, so it has been added to my collection.