Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Birthdays are Best

I've always thought April a fine month for a birthday. Maybe it's because it just seems like a good time of year to celebrate life, being spring and all, and as a child I thought it very special when my birthday once fell on the same day as Easter.

Now, I am happy that my birthday coincides with the peak blooming season of Jordan's beautiful wildflowers. A few years ago, my family took me out wildflower spotting on my birthday, and I was thrilled to come upon a small hill of black irises, Jordan's national flower.

This week, Dear Husband asked me where I would like to go wildflower spotting for my birthday. I choose the nature reserve in Ajloun, an hour+ west of Mafraq, and at a higher elevation; lots of clay soil, limestone, native pine and oak forests. I had heard that the wild orchids bloom in April, and I hoped that I might spot some as I'd only ever seen one orchid in the wild, and that about five years ago.

Dear Husband, who, when behind the wheel, doesn't like to stop for much of anything, robes himself in patient forbearance for my birthday expeditions, and pulls over whenever I think I've spotted a promising specimen. Our first find was a beautiful Rock Rose, taken from below with my telephoto lens as it was positioned high up on a steep rocky bank.

Cistus salvifolius
White Rock Rose

Once we arrived at the reserve, we asked if the orchids were blooming and the reserve attendant suggested we might see some about halfway along the 2 km trail. Walking just ahead of me, Dear Husband was the first to spot them sparsely growing here and there among the craggy limestone.

Orchis tridentata
Toothed Orchid

A little farther down the trail we spotted another species:

Orchis anatolica
Anatolian Orchid

We also came upon a small grove of Strawberry Trees, named for their striking smooth, red bark. They reminded me of something from a fairy story; with their twists and turns I can imagine them coming to life as do the trees in Spenser's Faerie Queene or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Arbutus andranchne

This lovely Salvia reminded of a large bird about to take flight...

Genus Salvia

...and the Silene was perfectly pink.

Silene damascena
Damascus Catchfly

Dear Husband and I arrived home to wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen, where Tayta was busily preparing my birthday dinner: lemon chicken piccata with pasta, roasted vegetables, broiled tomatoes with Parmesan and basil, and a strawberry cake for dessert. Yes, spring birthdays are best!


Woman of the House said...

Happy birthday, beautiful one! That's a great rendition of that song.:) I used to think that Jordan (and other places in the Middle East) were all dry and sandy, but you've shown me otherwise. Your pictures are lovely! (And you didn't fall flat on your face while admiring them! lol)

Pictoria said...

What a lovely birthday filled with things you enjoy!

Jodi said...

Melissa, happy birthday! By the way, I thought it would tickle you to know what my husband said the other day: "Can you make more of those preserved lemons that your blogging friend showed you?" About the Hunger Games, I almost lagged on the second book, feeling the same as you did. But it's worth sticking with because it's such an unpredictable story.

Molly said...

Happy birthday! Spring is wonderful, so nice you could go looking at flowers. I'm ready for nicer weather every day. Your birthday dinner looked delicious.

Anonymous said...

I have missed your Birthday these last few years, forgive me. Wishing a late Birthday and all the best in the year ahead. Your day sounded wonderful. Amazing pictures. What a blessed Mom you are to come home to that dinner. You've taught her well. Happy Birthday dear friend.
xo Love Theresa