Walking the road.

April 13, 2014 § 4 Comments

Coreopsis.Go, before the men on mowing machines cut down the roadside riot of spring, and tame it short and ordinary, converting a bounty of flowers to a poverty of lawn.

Go. Walk the margin between hard top and fence, asphalt and strip mall.

In that narrow border between travel and commerce spring is buzzing and bending the flowers down.

You can see it out a car window.

An impressionist painting.

A sweep of color.

A texture like a ragged carpet.

Wild Raspberry.But to really see it you have to drop a knee on the gritty earth and look close at the flowers.

Some are no bigger than a gnat, some bear petals like filaments, some are showy like the Kleenex roses my sister, Claudia, used to make.

Bend down. Take a whiff.

Catch the faint smell of soap or onions or your grandmother’s closet.

Whether small and inconspicuous, or showy all flowers are advertisements for life, each an invitation to pollinators—but look past the flowers and you will see the plants are tough as well as pretty and far from defenseless.

Many are armored with nettles, or quickly produce seeds that will ride your socks to the next spot left vacant by our endless clearing.

Lupines on New Light Church Road.The rabid flowering of Spring is a declaration: I’m here, briefly, but I’ll show up somewhere else, in some other stretch of disturbed soil. My life is short–and I am immortal.

We name these plants because we name everything, almost as if in so doing, we assert our ownership.

These pasted-on names are comments on their beauty, tenacity, resemblance to other things in the human lexicon.

Spiderwort, phlox, blue-eyed grass, coreopsis, fleabane, violet, Florida poppy.

Beggartick, false garlic, white clover, columbine, dayflower, stinging nettle.

Elephant’s foot, primrose, thistle, morning glory, bindweed, tickseed.

Venus looking glass, lupine, speedwell, skullcap, pitcherplant, Indian pink.

Wild Azaleas.I like knowing the names, but they have no meaning to a flower.

All these roadside plants feel the brevity of the season and the job they have to do in that short time.

Operating on a human time span, we anticipate other springs. The need to experience this particular spring is tepid.

The roadside flowers of this spring measure their shot at immortality in days. They bloom in waves, each species claiming a small segment of spring warmth and sunlight to grow, flower and set seed.

If you want to experience this fast-waning Spring, go, before the mowing machines roll, before Summer lays an oppressive hand on all that grows in the gritty margin between our human endeavors.Primrose.

To feel the urgency of life in this moment, walk the edge of the road.


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