Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis) may not be the first wildflower in the Kalamazoo area, but I think of it as the true beginning of the season. (Perhaps because I often miss the blooms of Harbinger of Spring.) Hepatica flowers range from white to purple. The name Hepatica, reminiscent of hepatitis, comes from this plant's liver-shaped leaves.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.