I'm searching for the Spring Beauty (claytonia virginica) a spring wild flower.

May 4th, 2007, 12pm

I am searching for the Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) a spring wild flower.

An Ojibwa legend has Peboan and Seegwum meet in Peboan’s lodge. I’ve shortened the story a bit eliminating a lot of both Peboan’s and Seegwum’s boasting. (check out “Peboan and Seegwum: an Allegory of the Seasons from the Odjibwa” in Henry Schoolcraft’s writings.)

”I am Peboan, the Spirit of Winter,” said the old man. “I blow my breath, and the streams stand still. The water becomes stiff and hard as clear stone.”

”I am Seegwum, the Spirit of Spring,” answered the youth. “I breathe, and flowers spring up in the meadows and woods.”

”I shake my locks,” said the old man, “and snow covers the land. The leaves fall from the trees, and my breath blows them away. The birds fly to a distant land, and the animals hide themselves from the cold.”

”I shake my ringlets,” said the young man, “and warm showers of soft rain fall upon the earth. The flowers lift their heads from the ground, the grass grows thick and green. My voice recalls the birds, and they come flying joyfully from the Southland. The warmth of my breath unbinds the streams, and they sing the songs of summer. Music fills the groves wherever I walk, and all nature rejoices.”

The lodge faded away, and Peboan sank down and dissolved into tiny streams of water, that vanished under the brown leaves of the forest. Thus the Spirit of Winter departed, and where he had melted away, there the Indian children gathered the first blossoms, fragrant and delicately pink —the modest Spring Beauty.

This year I’m looking for the Spring Beauty. I captured this photograph on May 5 of 2007 On the Grand Portage Indian reservation. This year in 2014 the spring flowers have just begin to grown now on May 27 so I know neither when nor where to look for the Beauty of Spring!! Such are the vagaries of Minnesota seasons.

I first discovered the early spring flower in a ditch along side a road while walking my dog in a town where I once lived. — Dog-walking, by the way, is the best exercise devised by human-kind (or is it canine-kind) because there is absolutely no way you can weasel out of it. — I and the dog, I hope, watched for it to bloom each spring for a number of years. Finally, one summer, the gas company, building a new feeder line into town, obliterated it. I noticed the construction company used directional horizontal drilling to sneak the pipe under a wet land without disturbing it. The company also saved the cemetery’s pines with the same technique. The poor Spring Beauty having neither rare status, general awareness of its existence nor a quick-witted advocate — me — got plowed under. I may return to that spot in the road. I think the Spring Beauty grew in the opposite ditch which suggests early city fathers built the road through the middle a big patch of Spring Beauties with a bit remaining on each side.

If I find none there, I’ll keep wandering through Spring looking for Spring Beauty!

Sanna, Christine and Shu said thanks.

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Ken Jackson

An avid outdoors man. Retired and retiring, living on the shore of Lake Superior

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