The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Saturday, March 16, 2013


The other day my favorite friend and sweetheart went to do some errands and on the way home spied a field of wild flower weeds that he knew I would like.  The small purple flowers which bloom everywhere they can this time of year, made a purple haze in a rare wild space along the road to our home.   So he told me about them when he got home, and next chance we were out and about, he took me by there to see them, only there wasn’t much to see from the direction we came, which was opposite to the direction he was going when he first saw them.  With no other traffic around, we slowly advanced, and as the perspective and the light changed, I looked back and saw them, and he was right, they were lovely, a hazy carpet of purple loveliness.   I don’t know what the plant is called, perhaps claytonia, which commonly blooms at this time of year.

So it occurred to me, that finding those flowers was a matter of light and perspective.  And it occurred to me, again, that this is true of more than just wild flower weeds.  For instance, I constantly fuss about weeds in the garden, particularly at this time of year when the little ‘weedus non-rareus’ as I call it, or henbit or wild lamium as the botanists call it, walks across the land, or rather runs and hops and skips, for it is everywhere.  Or there is the yellow oxalis, which is terribly difficult to pull out of the ground, unlike the ubiquitous henbit.  Or there is some sort of grass which pops up everywhere at this time of year, what I used to, as a child, call Easter grass, because it is so green in early spring, and makes just the right sort of clumps for hiding Easter eggs.   In my flower beds these plants are a nuisance because they want to occupy space that has been allotted to daffodils and hyacinths and tulips and daylilies and phlox and vegetables, all the ordinary but beloved plants that are much preferred to any weed.

And yet it also occurs to me that a lot of times we, myself included, lose our perspective and look at even the weeds in the wrong light.  Dandelions, they say, make tasty greens.  There is a type of wild purslane that is supposed to be lovely in salads.  There are in fact a number of wild plants that are quite edible and sought after by foragers.  And there is this one other thing about weeds that I must often remind myself about, for weeds, just as any green and growing plant, take in carbon dioxide which we humans emit in vast quantities, and in return exude out oxygen, you know, the stuff we breathe.  So even the weeds of the field are doing more to help our weary planet than are we.  Alas.

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