Well, according to a radio station that I listen to on a daily basis, today has been Milkweed Monday. So I’ll throw one in for alliteration, and mention the majestic monarch. There were two in the garden in early October. That is 100% more than in each of the past two years.
It is true, some Latin names have a sound of sophistication (Diospyros virginiana). Others may sound ominous (Toxicodendron radicans) or simple (Zea mays). But it is the Helianthus spp. that holds me rapt when I say the word, out loud or in my head. It is as though the word has sprung forth from the divine lips of mother nature herself. So steadfastly does it stick in my mind, I cannot help but think this group of plants holds something special about it.
This is the swamp sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius. Native. Perennial. Taller than tall.
This is a flower that gives more than it takes.
I visited a botanical library in Mexico once, somewhere in the state of Puebla or Morelos. This was long before I spoke Spanish. But, in the library, I remember there was a poster, and I think that was the title: “Leguminolandia.” I have always loved legumes, but even I thought that sounded kind of bonkers. I guess now I’m bonkers by my own definition.
These are non-native legumes I’ve found growing within a quarter-mile of the farm. I don’t know what they are – so I’ll put what I conjecture to be their names. Corrections graciously accepted.
Really, you’re not that big, but intimidating in your rusty patination, you defy the passerby to brush against you, to venture close enough to touch.
I spied you on a detour from my detour; stopping to examine the meadow grasses beneath my feet, I knew I was not alone. And glancing to my right, in the 20-year growth, you made yourself known.
On the approach, your charisma only expanded, to fill the atmosphere 10 feet in every direction; your sphere of influence dominant in this silent patch of woods. (the cicadas have ceased their death sirens for this revolution)
I did not touch you, but I knew. You are a product of human effort and ingenuity, you are not here by choice. But if humans created you, it is nature that will be your companion in the here and the hereafter. Silent and still in your slumber, your power had not been exhausted.
You will still be with us. As we go about our quotidian meanderings and distractances, you will stay apace with the inexorable march of time.
So many questions unanswered – who were your passengers? what precious cargo did you shuttle from one place to the next? what was your original color?