Monday, May 9, 2016

Spring Beauty

On Saturday mornings I like to go to my local forest preserve, Churchill Woods, and volunteer with a group of people doing brush clearing. It's given me a great opportunity to meet new friends, and to watch nature awaken and burst forth with new life.
One of the sweetest little flowers has a most perfect name, Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica). Whenever I want to learn more about a flower I always hope my favorite field guide, 'How to Know the Wild Flowers' by Mrs. William Starr Dana will have some brilliant gem to say about it. Published in 1893, here is just a fraction of what she wrote after referencing a poem, 'So Bashful When I Spied Her' by Miss (Emily) Dickenson: 'Yet we are all free to guess--and what flower--at least in the early year, before it has gained that touch of confidence which it acquires later--is so bashful, so pretty, so flushed with rosie shame, so eager to defend its modesty by closing it's blushing petals when carried off by the despoiler--as the Spring Beauty?'
Then, she writes: One is always glad to discover these children of the country within our city limits, where they can be known and loved by those other children who are so unfortunate has to be denied knowledge of them in their usual haunts. If the day chances to be cloudy these flowers close and are only induced to open again by an abundance of sunlight. This habit of closing in the shade is common to many flowers, and should be remembered by those who bring home their treasures from the woods and fields, only to discard the majority as hopelessly wilted. If any such exhausted blossoms are placed in the sunlight, with their stems in freshwater, they will probably regain their vigor. Should this treatment fail, and application of very hot- almost boiling- water should be tried. This heroic measure often meets with success.

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