After reports of the spring’s first skunk cabbage from three of my favorite blogs, in Japan (where a skunk cabbage bog is a site for a spring pilgrimage, and called zazensou because it looks like a monk), Pennsylvania, and Ohio, we went looking. Since I was growing up here, I have visited Cranberry Glades, and seen the signs along the boardwalk pointing out the skunk cabbage. Alas, I have never been there late in the winter when they are in bloom. There was still snow on the ground, and I had looked in various boggy places locally with no luck. Surveying the places nearby that we hadn’t visited, I chose Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area, on the Tygart Valley River just above Tygart Lake.
Going over on the Tygart always amuses me not only because it is beautiful, but also because the river was named for the valley and not the other way around. The Files and Tygart families were the earliest settlers across the mountains, near Beverly in 1753, just before the beginning of the French and Indian war. The Files were killed except for one son, in the terrible summer of 1755. The Tygarts left, as did everyone across the frontier. No-one came back to live until another group from the South Branch, in 1772, including my Stalnaker ancestors. They found and buried the Files family’s bones, and named the valley after the Tygarts.
We found no skunk cabbage, but it was a lovely afternoon.