The Teeming Meadow

Today I went to a bit of the urban wild.

I met up with a hummingbird moth, those strange, strange creatures who give one pause and begs the questions are you some sort of hummingbird, or a bee? Oh, I see. You are your own creature altogether.

The sun was bright and the breeze was gentle and perfect. On days like this “work” for an herbalist feels akin to lying on a pile of silk cushions, licking a popsicle while someone rubs your feet and someone else fans you with giant fronds.  What a blessing, to have such pleasure as a part of my daily tasks.

The Black Walnut Trees  are dripping with fruit. The Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is ridiculously abundant and the Sweet Melilot  towers above me at seven feet tall. Blue Vervain, Hoary Vervain, White Vervain  are all showing their various faces and when I looked down there were the Golden Alexanders and the second bloom of  Yarrow. The Rosehips are just begining to blush. And I saw the first Canada Goldenrod in bloom (Already? Can it really be time, already?)


The grasslands, whether native prairie or naturalized meadow are not the peaceful, quiet places you think they are as you roar past them on the highway on your way somewhere more exciting, some “real” wilderness, some mountaintop, or seaside, or river gorge.  The meadow teems with life.  It buzzes with intensity.  It is a lush, verdant, exuberant riot of life packed together sometimes so tightly you dare not try to walk through it, instead we humans linger on its’ edges.

The plants, relatively stationary though they are, make manifest all the experiences of being a living creature during our brief Northern Summer.   They shoot up, reach the sky, creep along the ground, stay in  place or crowd out their neighbor, crawling over each other on theway up, up, up….the bloom of youth and of being in one’s prime, the attraction, the fertility, the sex and sexiness, the inevitable drying up and decay.  Some plants do these tasks quietly and modestly and some as loudly and conspicuously as you can imagine.

The plants have always spoken to us this way, allowed us to see our own lives reflected in their brief life cycles. Our old language speaks of  putting down roots, of people gone to seed, of girls who blossom…

So, no it’s not really peaceful.  It’s dense and messy and riotous. It’s a stirring and exciting as any landscape I have ever been to.



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