The wild prairie rose is my absolute favorite North Dakota wildflower. It has a wonderful scent, and is always in bloom on my birthday. One of my most treasured possessions is a dried prairie rose in a glassine case, with a note written by my mother, dated June 23, 1959: "Julie just brought me this rose. She certainly does love flowers."
I have a broken heart. Something that I desperately wanted - no, desperately needed - at this time of my life has been taken away from me. Rather, I should say, denied me, because it wasn't really mine in the first place.
I won't go into details about the situation, but I do want to tell you how it has left me feeling: tearful, unwanted, old, useless, insignificant, stupid, inferior, powerless, naive, broken, defeated, hollow, hopeless, set adrift, second class, disrespected.
That is a whole bundle of bad emotions - really some bad juju to be carrying around. Fortunately, after a few days I am past the worst. I'm not crying any more: There aren't any tears left to be shed at the moment.
Of course, I have had way worse things happen in my life. My family is fine, and Dan is not divorcing me! Compared to the deaths of loved ones, this doesn't even place very high on the list.
But with each sorrowful event I've lived through, I have discovered that there comes a time when one cannot stand the intensity of the emotions. The more intense the emotions, the less the body can take it, and has to begin to return to normal.
That's the point I'm at now. So how do I begin to recover? Funny as it may seem, I have been receiving solace from a poem. It's "What is so rare as a day in June?" which I printed in my post of June 10. To be sure, it has been resonating with me. I originally used it to illustrate the rare beauty of June days, but now I am recalling lines that remind me of the healing powers of nature in the summertime.
"Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it, We are happy now because God wills it; No matter how barren the past may have been, 'Tis enough for now that the leaves are green."
"Who knows whither the clouds have fled? In the unscarred heavens they leave not wake/And the eyes forget the tears they have shed, The heart forgets its sorrow and ache."
Is it really true, could immersing myself in the natural world this summer restore my soul and replenish my depleted sense of self?
If I sit every fair evening under the old elm tree that shades my deck, as I have for the past 26 years, will I again regain the happiness I have found there? When the thick leaf canopy blocks the rain, when the branches sough as a cooling breeze springs up, when the leaves are silhouetted black before the full white moon, will I feel a surge of pleasure and forget my tears? Will I then go to bed and sleep deeply and well?
If I sit by the Missouri River and try to follow the course of one drop of water, will I realize that life flows on, and that like rain and evaporation, it is part of a great cycle that usurps you and me?
If I drive up the hill to the lookout blockades at Fort Abraham Lincoln, will I remember the struggles of those people who lived here long before me - both the Native Americans and the soliders of Custer's Seventh Cavalry?
If I listen to bird song, will I allow my precious "illumined being" to be "o'errun with the deluge of summer it receives"?
If I watch waves lap against the lake shore at the immense Lake Sakakawea, will I realize that "whatever life has ebbed away, comes flooding back with a ripply cheer, into every bare inlet and creek and bay"?
If I sit "in the warm shade" on newly-cut grass, will I "feel right well"? Will "the heart in my dumb breast" flutter and sing?
If I drive out of town in order to look up at a night sky undimmed by city lights, will I realize my insignificance - and at the same time, my greatness? After all, said Carl Sagan, "We ourselves are made of star stuff."
If, having written about the wild sweet rockets and recalled other beloved North Dakota wildflowers, will I re-discover the joys of my childhood?
That's yet to be seen. Reminiscing about my favorite wildflowers is my first step in the healing.
North Dakota wildflowers aren't terribly showy. We don't have meadows full of fireweed or bluebonnets, rivers of California poppies, hills of golden daffodils. No, North Dakota wildflowers are usually quite small, low to the ground and hard to spot. They may be insignificant, humble and fragile, they may stand alone, they may be battered by rain and winds, but they survive, and maybe, just maybe, I will survive this too.
The New England wild aster may have had its beginnings in the East, but now it is common across the US.
Individual flax plants are not very striking, but a field of flax resembles an ocean - a true blue ocean on the prairie.
Loco is "crazy" in Spanish and describes the erratic actions of horses and livestock that eat this poisonous plant. As a child who was known to sample the nectar of flowers like lilac, honeysuckle and bluebells, I am so glad I did not sample this one.
I am violently allergic to this beautiful, Monarch-butterfly attracting plant. One time I was at the river bottoms south in Bismarck when entire meadows of milkweed were in full bloom. By the time we went home, I had the worst headache I'd ever had in my life, and had other symptoms which lasted more than a week.
These are among the most delicate of plants, their stems whisper thin.
These aren't as dramatic as the cultivated purple prairie coneflower, but I like them better. The pink petals look like ballerina dancers' skirts to me. When echinaea was all the rage as a cold remedy a few years back, people were digging up and destroying these plants to sell.
This beautiful fall flower has been accused of bringing on hay fever, but the actual culprit is ragweed!
I did not pick this flower, but left it where it grew. It is both stinky and sticky, making it undesirable as a cut flower. (But still pretty!)