Whether in a yard, a field, deep in the woods, on a mountainside, or along a stream, wild flowers are a thing of beauty unsurpassed by most other amenities. Although the garden variety of flowers can also be exquisite, they are usually nurtured and pampered, whereby those in the wild must fight for their existence and survival in order to bring forth such radiant beauty.
Wild flowers decorate and embellish the environment in which they inhabit, and like the sun shining through a stained glass window, they can give new meaning to an otherwise somber setting. Even in a habitat that might be naturally dismal, a delicate flower, vivid in color, can decorate the surroundings and enrich the lackluster. A whole meadow of flowers can appear as a radiant carpet beckoning you to stroll through its majestic pathway of pleasure.
Have you ever wondered why flowers were bestowed with such beauty. Although their pulchritude provides us with a plethora of colorful and fragrant images and enjoyment, the intention was not for the purpose of human pleasure, but to survive. Because there is a limited number of insects that pollinate flowers, over time and through evolution, they evolved into more beautiful and scented creations in order to attract insects for pollination. Much of this actually occurs in the ultraviolet spectrum which unfortunately is outside of the visible spectrum for humans. They are also colorful so that they stand out from the background, like a male Cardinal perched on the outer limb of a blue spruce.. Appearance, shape, and scent, are all for the purpose of attracting pollinators.
But for us, the human species, it is the visual splendor and fragrance, that attracts us. They adorn our environment like an ornament on a Christmas tree. They can beautify the dreary, reinvigorate the melancholy, and warm our heart. The visual delight and pleasurable redolence provides a temporary escape from reality and a replenishment of contentment. The discovery of a lustrous sample of the flower kingdom in the wilds can be as exciting as finding gold in a stream or a crystal protruding from the underside of a piece of quartz. The exhilaration of that sudden find can be magical.
I always enjoy the sudden encounter with a wild flower when least expected. I recall the excitement and exhilaration upon rounding a rock ledge while hiking in the Alps with my wife. We had just dropped below the snow line and there on a south facing ledge were an exquisite array of majestic little flowers. The Spring Gentian, Alpine Snowbell, Stemless Gentian, and Purple Saxifrage. An impressive display of beauty, none of which I had ever seen before. Just observing them seemed to extract the chill from our being and brought warmth to our soul.
In the shaded woods, just coming upon the delicate Dutchmen’s Breeches, appearing like pairs of pantaloons hung up to dry, can reinvigorate your journey. Or the sudden discovery of the Canada Mayflower, also known as Wild Lily-Of-The-Valley, reveals how such a small woodland plant can brighten your day.
Once while exploring a swampy area, I came upon the Canada Lily. Unlike the Day Lily, it is more yellow and the flower droops downward as though nodding, with the petals and sepals curling backward. It was an elegant find when least expected.
While hiking through a meadow that appeared all green while ascending a slope, as I reached the crest, it became a blanket of white, as the delicate Yarrow appeared all around me. You just never know when that next wild flower will enter your life and change your mood.
Although we are not pollinators, we are appreciators of the wild flower. The shapes, the colors, the fragrances, all combine to draw us near. Wild flowers are magical and make our world a better place. They continue in their evolution to entice and beckon the pollinators who assist in their continued existence, but the result is the enlightenment of our environment and spirit.
© Copyright 2014 by John D. McCann