Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place

April 2011/Wildflowers I Have Known

April 2011Wildflowers I Have Known
In March I was visiting a local used bookstore when from the shelf jumped out at me a sweet volume entitled “How to Know the Wildflowers” by Mrs. Dana William Starr.
Originally published in 1893, it was an immediate bestseller. I love this book because in as much as it is a wildflower guide, it is about deeply and intimately knowing a place.

Below is her description for Bloodroot, one of the earliest Spring arrivals. Just to read her description of this flower calms me. I love that this book will never be out of date, yet transports me back to another time when people spoke this way. Read aloud slowly. Follow with a sip of hot tea.

“In early April, the curled up leaf of the Bloodroot, wrapped in papery bracts, pushes up its firm tip though the earth and brown leaves, bearing within its carefully shielded burden, the young erect flower bud. When the perils of the way are passed and a safe height is reached this pale, deeply lobed leaf resigns its precious charge and gradually unfolds itself; meanwhile the bud slowly swells into a blossom.

Surely no flower of all the year can vie with this in spotless beauty. Its very transitoriness enhances its charm. The snowy petals fall from their golden center before one has time to grow satisfied with their perfection. Unless the rocky hillsides and wood-borders are jealously watched it may escape us all together.
One or two warm sunny days will hasten it to maturity, and a few more hours of wind and storm shatter its loveliness.

Care should be taken in picking the flower (if it must be picked) as the red liquid which oozes blood like from the wounded stem makes a lasting stain. The crimson juice was prized by the Indians as decoration for their faces and tomahawks.”



Your Story:
Think about the wildflowers that grow where you live, or another event in nature that you can count on. Read about it. Anticipate it. Doing this will slow you down to nature’s timing and reconnect you with her rhythm. Doing so can be very calming and grounding, especially in turbulent times.

Try this:
Keep a notebook: At our house we have a nicely bound journal that throughout the years, we’ve noted something we’ve seen on a walk that we wanted to tell the other about. What started, as an urge to report something we’d seen on a walk we took without the other, has become a really nice keepsake to look back on.

Read an old nature study guide: It’s really fun and they’re not out of date! Find one at the library or a used bookstore.

Journal this: Reflect on the kind of events in your area that herald Spring that you have come to depend on.  What do you see and hear? Make note and you’ll see it more fully. And appreciate it more deeply.

I’d love to hear what you thought of this article. Post a comment below.

updated: 1 year ago

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