Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'll take a week of sunshine with a side of flowers, hold the rain

I'm just going to lay it out there. I'm a botany nerd. For those of you far enough from the world of natural history - that's the study of plants. More specifically, I'm into ephemeral herbaceous plants - meaning I aim my attention at non-woody plants that run through their life cycle in a matter of days or weeks - also known as spring wildflowers.

So what?

Why am I wrapping my glasses with proverbial tape on an open forum? Because the next few weeks are MY weeks. While some long for deer hunting season, or the Final Four, or the Indy 500 (god, why are all of my references so down home Indiana...) -- my main annual event happens about one foot off the ground out in the woods -- in just a couple weeks a year. Of course, I can't mark it on my calendar months in advance because the mix of rain, sun, and temperature dictates WHEN I get to have my fun.

Natural History Lesson:
Woodland spring wildflowers are amazing because they can run the course of their annual life cycle in a matter of days or weeks. That means sprout, bud, bloom, seed, and senesce (or die back) all before the leaves on the trees shades them out. Think about how much sunlight hits the forest floor once the leaves on the trees fill in the canopy - hardly any at all. The challenge, then, for the flowers is to creep in just in time to do their duty after the threat of frost (sometimes more successfully than others), but before the trees hog all of the life-giving light.

But why does this cynical, sarcastic, over-worked, under-paid woman give a rat's ass about "weeds" growing in the forest??

Because they are my heroes. Spring wildflowers are my soul mirrors in the plant world. Does that sound stupid? Well, maybe a little - but I had to find a connection with the little buggers since I did my master's thesis on them and had to endure long days of mud, rain, and mosquitoes - oh so many mosquitoes - to collect my data. I'm still reeling from the chemical overdose of Deep Woods Off.

I live in a world of structure and anarchy, bedtimes, bath times and laundry, work deadlines and tummy aches. Between my daily, weekly, monthly, and annual schedules; my lovely daughter who lives to disrupt said schedules; all responsibilities friends, family, and otherwise that are completely unscheduleable; and the ultimate vanity - sleep --- I rarely can find time to do something for me. For the most part, I'm ok with that, but everyone needs to be rejuvenated. Everyone.

Time to get up and shower (oooh) and dig out the makeup that hasn't clumped into a brick because of non-use (ahhhh) and just plain feel good, nay great, about herself. A moment to reflect on all that she accomplishes before 7AM whilst others sleep the day away. To see that her work IS appreciated and that she is making a positive impact on her little corner of the world.

Just to clarify - I'm speaking metaphorically here and do not don the mascara to hike in the woods...

I challenge you all to get out and bloom - even if it's just to go grocery shopping. Feel great about yourself. Also, step outside your world and check out the little beauties blooming in a woods near you. They aren't horticulturally botoxed into the false sense of "beauty", but those simple little wildflowers are reaching for their share of the sun just the same.

(Note: if you are in the northern part of the US, it may take a bit longer for the wildflowers to pop. Take a hint from your daffodils - once they begin to bud, so will your local wildflowers!)


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