Friday, September 11, 2009
Field and flower lore and legend
I usually consider myself to be a bit of a know-nothing when it comes to botany, and I always wish I knew more, and I was actually pleasantly surprised when I visited Oregon this summer (having not been there for two years or more) and found myself having quite a lot to say about the flora thereabouts to my boys. Not much practical, no scientific names or herbal applications, but just interesting little bits and pieces that are really so common and familiar to me that I almost don't think to say them. But the kids ate it up. Tickle your chin with a buttercup... if it turns yellow, that means you like butter. Pluck just one of the individual purple petals from the head of a red clover and daintily sip out the tiny drop of nectar within. Tie together the green clover into long chains of necklaces and bracelets. Find the wild mint that grows by the creek and chew the leaves. And of course there's always the dandelion, did anyone else do this? You pick a yellow dandelion, say, "Mama had a baby.... and her head popped off" and then flick off the flower head with your thumb... I don't know, that one was all the rage in grade school. I kinda held back from sharing that one, it just seems too perverse, though gosh knows the little hell-raisers would probably love it.
So anyway, I was at Half Price Books yesterday and I stumbled on this book on the clearance shelf for two bucks, signed by the author, no less. Reading it tonight was like manna for the soul... it was just full of stuff like that.... stories and poems, traditions, games, rhymes, and ways to play, with all the sweet little flowers, grasses and leaves out there, the most fragrant and immediate, natural and vital, plentiful and affordable playthings that exist.