Monday, June 23, 2008

Seen at the Gate

Bladder campion,
Silene vulgaris

It's one of the most common members of the Pinks (Caryophyllaceae) family, and it goes by many other names: Silene, Cow bell and Rattleweed to name a few. It is generally treated as a noxious rural weed and marked as a species which should be rooted out vigorously and eradicated wherever found.

What is it doing here this morning? Call it a serendipity experience - yesterday as I closed the gate of the Two Hundred Acre Wood, I noticed several specimens blowing in the breeze and decided to take a closer look at them for the first time in many years. Weed or not, the delicate architecture of the Bladder Campion is intricate and interesting, and it is veined in the most wonderful way.

As I stood near the gate late in the afternoon, I remembered being fascinated by members of the Silene and Ground Cherry (Physalis heterophylla) families as a child and carefully dissecting the blooms to see what they held inside - there were seeds, of course. The same juvenile curiosity led me to spend countless summer hours in fields and thickets communing with fireflies, butterflies, bees and cicadas, with sorrel and barley and sweet smelling red clover.

Here we are fifty years on, and I am revisiting my childhood interests with great pleasure. Perhaps I never grew up? I certainly haven't changed much, for I will fall on my arthritic knees at the drop of a hat to look at such entities. There is incomparable beauty in small things, and for years I passed them by entirely. Shame on me.

6 comments:

Suzanne said...

They look delicate and beautiful. Thank you for seeing and sharing their beauty.

joanna said...

beautiful, beautiful, and yet again beautiful . . .

Anonymous said...

Hi Cate; As a child I remember my older sister showing me how to make them snap on the back of my hand. Thanks for the memory! Jane

Sky said...

but, ohhh, how you are making up for lost time!

z-silverlight said...

Blessed are they who retain that childlike joy and curiosity for life. We live longer and healthier.

Steve Emery said...

Like anonymous above, I had a grandfather who showed me how to snap them, and I've shown my kids, though we don't see it much down here in the Southern Piedmont. We see it in the mountains, though, when we're up there. This year we had an amazing bloom of rose campion, an old fashioned garden flower that isn't in much favor now, and fire pinks, both cousins of this flower, I believe. And my favorite of them all, still, is the Deptford pink - with their tiny hot pink blooms. They always seemed like a well kept secret to me, along with cinquefoil and wild strawberries. Flowers (and fruits) most people didn't notice.