My father was always talking about skunk cabbage, something he found in the woods near the end of winter, an optimistic sign of Spring. We had seen his pictures. The stuff is exotic and sculptural, something like Georgia O’Keeffe meets Henry Moore, and startling as it pokes its way through the snow. We walk in the woods most days and we have never seen any skunk cabbage. That is until yesterday.
We stopped to visit my mom and and continued east out to Powder Mills Park. In high school I worked at my uncle’s grocery store, right next door to Uncle John’s Pancake House, and most of the other guys went to East Rochester. We would go out to Powder Mills after work and drink beer and that’s the last time I was there. It’s a happening park. The fish hatchery is teeming with Brown Trout and Salmon. The ski hill was covered in man-made snow and the hiking trails run in all directions. We took three or four and found an area of rich, fertile soil at the bottom of a steep slope and near a marsh that was so thick with skunk cabbage that we kept stepping on them.
The weather has been so crazy warm we wondered if this might be especially early for a sighting but I looked back at my father’s iPhoto library and he usually found it in early March, some in early April but in 2006 he found some on February 19th on a slope in Ellison Park.