Four Kinds of Wait

DSC_0003 (2)sigWait, it is something we mostly dislike doing. Wait in line, not me. Wait for a friend, not patient. Waiting is hard for humans, ask me.

Plants wait. If you can compare a plant to a human who waits. They wait when the growing season ends. They wait a whole winter.

Waiting for plants is worthwhile. The reward in spring is blossoms, stunning breath-taking blossoms.DSC_0013_106sig

There are three kinds of wait. The interval, the delay and the expect. With wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, all three are over. The interval of winter, done. The delay of blooms while the plant begins a new growing season. The time of expectation is over too. Aquilegia canadensis is in bloom!DSC_0004_103sig

You might agree, it was worth it. Wild columbine is a gorgeous wildflower. It is a spring source of food for bees, hummingbirds and early butterflies. A perennial, it blooms early providing newly arrived hummingbirds with a source of nectar from the 5 lobed backwards tubes above the flower. Hummingbirds can extract the nectar with their long tongues. Its seed is black, shiny and very small. 38,000 of them make one ounce! The wild columbine is a native flower worth the wait.DSC_0034_114sig

There is a 4th kind of wait. It is a spiritual one. Isaiah 64:4 speaks of waiting, From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Why should I wait for God? First, He is over all. He is all powerful. He is the creator of all things, you, me and the wild columbine. The other three types of wait happen with God too. When we pray there are times Gods answer is given after an interval. Then His answer may be delayed, not because God is unsure-but because He knows the future. To me the best is the “expect-wait.” Think of all that God, all knowing, all powerful, everywhere present who personally loves you can do, today and tomorrow! Wait on the Lord, anticipate amazing! With God THAT is what is to come!DSC_0005_104sig

Thimbleweed, Anemone Cylindrica

It’s time we go from feathers to green. Spring migration is complete. The spring and summer residents from the tropics are busy. Earlier there were courting songs to be sung. Then there were nests to make. Eggs have been laid. Many young birds are now keeping their parent birds busy feeding during every daylight hour. To say it another way: the show is over.

My response to this, aah, so soon? Phenology, or the regular occurence of seasonal events cannot be ignored. While there will be an entire summer of bird enjoyment, bird delights are now in taper mode. Watch and listen, there will be a gradual, and noticeable decline in bird song. August is especially quiet.

Flowers don’t sing, they pantomime. Without sound, they grow and bloom. To enjoy them one must search them out if they are native. Or, grow them yourself.

The march of blossoms has begun. It started at least 6 weeks ago when the first flower of spring, the Pasque flower revealed its beautiful lavender petals or sepals. While the bird exhilaration continued my mind stayed with feathers. Prairie Smoke bloomed, and Hoary Puccoon, and there are a few more my mind has not recalled. The shift to blossoms in my brain happened today. Sorry, I am a late bloomer.

DSC_0050_102sigMeet Anemone cylindrica or Thimbleweed. Creamy white sepals accented with golden pollen coated stamens make a striking l flower. Framed in a late spring prairie green, adds to the gorgeous factor. Thimbleweed flowers have 5 sepals. Always 5. While these 5 look like petals, they are sepals. Sepals are usually green. Not with the thimbleweed.

Once pollinated, the thimbleweed flower cone will elongate to 1 ½ inches in most flowers. The “thimble” containing next year’s seed will remain through the long winter becoming more fluffy as winter months pass. It begins to look like a tiny ball of cotton on a stick. It’s nickname “cottonweed” is a fit. 26,000 seeds fit in one ounce! Bees and flies may pollinate thimbleweed, or it can be self-pollinating.DSC_0049_101sig

Every living thing has at least one miraculous attribute. Modern medicine has developed numerous effective antiseptics. Before them, there was thimbleweed. Thimbleweed roots were used by native people who lived on the prairies where thimbleweed grew. They had learned its value. Thimbleweed roots contain anemonin. They used it to treat burns, eyewash and made a tea to treat dizziness and headache.

Even though thimbleweed is found in most states east of the rocky-mountains it is a rare plant. Rare because prairies are rare, but easy to add to your garden or flower bed. While there are  many who like oversize size blossoms, the delicate bloom of this native is worth adding to your life! Its unassuming beauty soothes the soul. It blooms just when birding becomes less interesting. DSC_0048_100sig

The Scent of Childhood

DSC_0071_073 (2)sigThe goal was a photo, maybe more of the American Redstart Warbler. My hike brought me to an area where they were singing and flying from branch to branch. Watching for a few minutes enabled me to choose the location where they perched most often. But, they are more active than an Olympic gymnast in a gold medal round. Though they came close, they never sat more than a moment. Too quick for this “slower than a painted turtle photographer in winter”. Ok, not that slow, but truly, Redstarts are quick. Ask a birder. While sitting, waiting with optimism, a subject that would not move came to mind.

While hiking to the wooded area to photograph the Redstart my eyes caught a glimpse of a true sign of middle spring, a Hoary Puccoon flower. Anchored to earth, this beautiful flowering native plant would comfort my frustrated photographer mind. The longer my wait for the Redstart became the more inviting the Hoary Puccoon became.

Hoary Puccoon is one of my spring favorites. It ranks high on my list of enjoyable childhood memories.. As a boy my knowledge was limited to the scent of its flowers. It is my simple opinion that Hoary Puccoon has the best of all floral scents. Sorry, there is no hyperlink to share its scent with you. I confess I am sorry that I was so focused on getting its picture I did not stop to take in the sweet one of a kind and only in spring fragrance that is exclusive to Hoary Puccoon.

This perennial native blooms in mid-spring. Hoary means old. Like other native plants, it does have grayish hair-like foliage. “Puccoon” is Algonquian, and means a plant that “produces” or yields purple, red, or yellow dye. The Hoary Puccoon resists human cultivation. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have tried for years to propagate this spring beauty by seed. It has been unsuccessful. Viable seed is rare. The fruit of the Puccoon is a white nut-like seed without a plume. Another source indicates a common name for this spring beauty is “Stoneseed”

Its flowers are a rich one of a kind orange-yellow. Hoary Puccoon is visited by spring butterflies and bees, but not for long as it flowers for a short time. The author of the link just used for butterflies and bees stated that Puccoon has little scent. We must be discussing two different flowers! Hoary Puccoon has a world-class scent!

Now you should find your own Hoary Puccoon. Give it the sniff test. If you live in the eastern part of the United States or the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or Ontario, you could find it. Your search should focus on places with prairie, or road ditches where prairie once existed and the land is now used for farming.

You really should make an attempt to sniff the premium fragrance of Hoary Puccoon. How did such an exceptional perfume find its way into the Hoary Puccoon plant? Why is such a fragrance necessary? Any guesses? Read Genesis 1:11.

Don’t wait too long, the blossoms will soon be gone!