The colors of these wild kin are something to see, and their delightfully complex shape always reminds me of a harlequin's hat or a medieval jester's cap and bells. The architecture is splendid stuff, and there is a blithely capering choreography to the columbine's dancing movement back and forth on gracefully curved and arching stems. With sunlight shining through them, the petals and sepals are like stained glass.
Columbine's native habitat, the hallowed place of its blooming, is a wild and wooded cathedral (or abbey) in the Lanark highlands. The stained glass analogy is apt, for the nave's ceiling is somewhere up in the sky, its soaring green arches disappearing into the clouds. Up there are spires, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses, and the leafy side chapels below go on and on into the depths of the forest. I am reading John Crowley's fabulous Little, Big for the nth time, and a sentence about the forest at the heart of the book comes to mind: “The further in you go, the bigger it gets.” If you have never read Crowley's novel, make a bee line for your nearest book shop and grab a copy. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of fiction ever written, and perfect summer reading too.
In late May or early June, columbines often seem to be wearing at least one spider web, along with bits of fluff from nearby cottonwood trees and slender filaments of milkweed silk. I never fail to be astonished and delighted by what my macro lens "sees" and records in its sylvan ramblings. At times, its loving eye seems to linger and caress everything it encounters, and that is particularly so in late springtime when columbines are in bloom.
As I drifted through the woods last weekend and clicked away with mad abandon, the first dragonflies of the season whirred around my head and spiraled off into the sunlit trees in search of prey. There are clouds of black flies and mosquitoes this year, and the little dragons of the air were dining very well indeed.
Here comes another sweet and golden summer of dancing wildflowers, dragonflies, butterflies and bumbles... There is almost too much wonder, grace and beauty to take in, and after a long cold winter, we are sooooo ready for it.