What You Can See on May 7

From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Crinkled as Lotus Leaf As of old, the comparison of human epidermis with lotus blossoms elicits blushes in America and Asia, where the other lotus species evolved. But he who compares a woman’s skin to lotus *leaves*--that brown, crinkled, mud-stained foliage pushing up from pond muck in May and June, is likely to get slapped. American lotus, found in roughly the eastern two thirds of the nation, starts blooming in late spring. Pale yellow flowers, sometimes 8,500 per acre, open in full sunlight, but when the hot earth belches clouds into the firmament they close to protect pollen from possible rain. Shower-head-like seedpods, which keep growing after the petals fall off, contain about 20 acorn-sized seeds relished by all manner of wildlife and sufficiently hard-shelled to stay viable for years. Hence the plant’s other names: duck acorn, alligator button, and rattlenuts.