I love spring wildflowers! My love for them was born in college where I majored in biology and was taught by Dr. Lee at Roanoke College. He was diagnosed with cancer that spring of 1997 and the course I took with him was to be his last, so we made a special effort to walk the same trail in the woods each week and watch the progression of wildflowers. Dr. Lee's favorite was spring beauty, Claytonia virginiana, and I think of him each time I see it. The passing of Dr. Lee was inevitable, but also inevitable was his passing on his love of biology to students. Our favorite activity was to blindfold him and bring him a living plant to identify. He never got one wrong. I am saddened each time I think that he is gone, but I smile knowing that he lives in each wildflower.
On April 8th, Susan and I walked the Shut-in Trail near the NC Arboretum just south of Asheville. Our baby was 5 days overdue and we thought a 5 mile hike might coax him out. As we walked along the trail, Susan had to wait for me because I was looking at so many plants. It was incredible and although the bloodroot was the only thing really in full bloom, there was so much on the way. We just had to wait a little bit.
Little did we know how much really was on the way. At 9 lbs. 3 oz, Simon burst on the scene two days after our hike. He was an absolute joy to hold and my world view has changed since his arrival. I now perceive danger constantly and understand calculated risk on a different level. Our emotions were unchecked, raw, and naked, but as a result, I feel closer to Susan than I ever have before. We survived the first few days and nights at home. Our lives settled down. Our minds returned to a somewhat stable, but altered state. As "normal" returned, the thought kept coming to my mind. What did those wildflowers look like? I couldn't stop thinking about them.
On day 11, I casually said to Susan, "Why don't we go check on those wildflowers? We can take some hard pretzels [Hammond's, not Snyder's, mind you] and Pepsi." She quickly agreed and the results were stunning. I have never seen such a variety of species in such a small area. We only walked about 0.1 miles on the trail. I saw so many wildflowers. I saw Dr. Lee's favorite, spring beauty, while holding Simon and am comforted that Dr. Lee's legacy and love for plants lives on through me and my generation. And maybe another.
Happy Earth Day. Love your Mother.
Of interest to me and hopefully at least one other person