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Tiny Dancers

Right now as you read this, there are tiny wildflowers blooming – probably only a few yards away – that are every bit as magnificent as their larger relatives. But you won't find these delicate plants arranged in florist shops or showcased in backyard gardens. They usually hide in the grass or scratch out a living on poor soil. They stay low to avoid browsing animals and birds. In places where death-dealing mowers prowl with regularity, many have adapted their form to grow just shy of the blade height.

So, if a flower blooms and no one is there to behold it, is it beautiful? You might answer that it is not, because no one is there to judge it so. My preferred answer to this philosophical riddle, however, is quite simple: there is no such thing as an ugly flower. Obscure, maybe, but not ugly.

Jacob's LadderSand SpurryPineapple WeedThe beauty of a flower is not wasted (or non-existent) because you or I haven't seen it and judged it to be pretty. The beauty is inherent in each plant species' exquisite functionality, shaped by thousands of years of "design testing" by nature. The result is a plant with just the right color, just the right flower and leaf shapes. Just the right seasonal timing. Just the right survival adaptations. And, of course, just the right size. When I come upon such delights, I can understand why the flower faeries of folklore watched over them!

Blue Scorpion-grassBird's-eye SpeedwellStar ChickweedThe photos shown here in this post (click on photos to enlarge) are but a few of the tiny plants that for the most part go unnoticed, trampled underfoot, or mowed down. You can probably find them or other tiny plants around your home or even a roadside rest stop this spring. 

StorksbillThyme-leaved SpeedwellWhite VioletThere was a time when a much greater number of people knew even the most obscure plants and their place in the environment around their homestead, village, farm, or town. They learned to collect the plants for food, medicine and other uses. They had time for observing the natural world because they were more intimately involved with it. They saw wisdom like a river running through it all, and would kneel gently beside its flow and drink from it. There are those of us who endeavor to keep this spirit alive today. If you are such a person, I hope you find a way to share it with others.

The pace of life has been way too fast for way too long, and the cost of this speed is incalculable. One day someone will definitively balance the ledger, with all the perceived progress added up on one side, and all the damage and loss on the other. My bet is that for all that we have created as a species, we have destroyed or damaged much more. It makes no difference whether you take time to search for tiny wildflowers dancing in the breeze, or enjoy some other form of quiet time in nature. Just don't let the speed of life steal such things away from you. 

Reader Comments (2)

Thank you for these beautiful words and photographs. As someone who "speeds" through life, I greatly appreciate your wise words - thank you so very much!

June 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanda High

You are most welcome Vanda. Indeed it is a challenge to slow down in our currently manifest world. I sometimes wonder just how much faster things will get before the wheels finally come off!

June 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterMichael Gambino

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