Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring Surprise

The other day I came across this lovely native plant growing along the edge of the woods. Turns out it has many names: Dutchman's Breeches, Collicweed, Eardrops, Staggerweed, White Hearts, Butterfly Bane, Fly Flower, Soldier Cap and Monk's Head. 

Fly Flower is about eight inches tall, with many waxy-white flowers held up in clusters above thin stems. The underneath leaves are soft and fringed. It was often children investigating field and forest who bestowed names on these native plants. Free association! "I see a soldier's hat," "I see a monk's hood," "I see a lady's earrings," "I see a pair of pants."  Or farmers named them after seeing how the plants (often negatively) effected their cows and sheep. At any rate, the giving of names suggests a time when people lived, worked and played outdoors more often and were thus observers of natural things: plants, animals, rock and land formations, rivers, streams and clouds...

We're losing (or have already lost) this connection and the delight it can bring. There's a moment of wonder when we discover a nature-surprise. We come into the world filled with wonder - crawling around and exploring objects and spaces, learning to identify colors, sounds, textures and tastes. And as we grow, there's a lot going on that can rob us of this sense of wonder. "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot." 

I knew a surgeon who was rushing against time to identify and catalogue the remaining native plants on Long Island. An elderly man, he never mentioned going to church, but his keen sense of wonder was evident. Remember the creation account in Genesis - day three:

And God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind And God saw that it was good. and there was evening and there was morning, a third day. Genesis 1:9-13
It's spring. We might take a walk around the property or down the block or maybe there is some untouched wild space not too far away where we might look down and be surprised. Look long and close - as long as it would take to discern the tiny yellow tips on the bottom of each flower in the photograph above. 

God is all-imagination.


  1. Going back to last week's post, it all begins with noticing. Taking the time to look, listen, feel and smell even the smallest of things and take in their details. If we can do this with the things of nature, we can do this with our fellow human beings. The surprise joyfully awaits our noticing.

  2. I am heading out now to take a morning walk with this in mind. Instead of listening to music, I will allow the sights and sounds of nature to grab hold of me. An exercise in awareness. I hope to find the beauty in things as you do.

    1. It was a beautiful exercise in awareness of nature. The trees in my area are in full bloom. Pink and white petals fluttering in the breeeze. And the buds on the azaleas just waiting to spring open, giving just a hint of the color to come.

  3. I get such enjoyment from these posts. I look forward to them everyday.

  4. And it gives me great pleaure to offer them. Thank you!