It is late March. The little stream through the woods is running freely again and the woods-earth is dark and porous after the departure of the snows. The fox sparrows utter throaty flute-notes and ripple-songs, like the sounds of water running under ice. The juneos are tinkling their small songs which mean that it is almost time for juneos and fox sparrows to head north to nest. A hermit thrush, also on its way to northern spruce forests, hops among last year's dead leaves where a scarlet cup mushroom gleams forth like a tanager's feather. On a south slope the spring beauties have opened a few pale flowers, but the great burst of early spring bloom is not yet here. But the look of spring is all through the hilly woods. The wild gooseberry bushes are in leaf. They are smooth, rounded mounds of pale green and the leaves are still so young they are folded and pleated, delicate and soft, pretty as flowers and with a pervasive fragrance which is everywhere in these woods.
Ribes missouriense Nutt.
A month later the gooseberry bushes have full-grown leaves and the flowers are in bloom. The scent of gooseberry blossoms is even stronger through the woods than it was when the leaves were perfumed. Now the flowers hang in small clusters all over the bushes, spring from the axils of the leaves and the new green stems. The. flowers are almost fuchsia-like in shape, pale green and white, with tightly recurved sepals of the bell-shaped calyx and a tight, bell-shaped corolla inside. From this extend the dramatically long, tight group of white stamens and the pistil. It is indeed a dramatic little flower - small, hut so delicately exaggerated that in its waxen perfection it is among the most beautiful in the spring-time woods.