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Skunk Cabbage: A Harbinger of Spring

My dad and I load up his truck with binoculars, a rifle, and our lunch. We are heading out the logging roads to look for spring, meaning skunk cabbage. I get excited whenever I see the first skunk cabbage emerge. He claims skunk cabbage is a sign it’s time to go out and fish for spring kings, which is his real motive for taking me on this mini-adventure. The pavement ends at the Tongass National Forest sign, after that there’s a hundred miles of old logging roads. My dad’s familiar with these dirt roads as he’s a retired field supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service. He’s in his late 70s and lives with me and my husband at our fishcamp. We often plan excursions to learn, photograph, and harvest from nature.

Snow melts, streams rush, plants push, rotten leaves become soil and the ground warms. A bright yellow plant pushes up. 


Rainforest crocus, muskeg lantern, and swamp lantern, are other names for skunk cabbage. Its scientific name is Lysichiton americanum, and in Lingít, it’s calle…

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