In defense of spring and wildflowers
By Daniela Ginta
It is finally here. The warmth we’ve all been looking forward to after a long-drawn winter. Hills are dressed in emerald green, and peppered with abundant bunches of arrowleaf balsamroot flowers. More wildflowers emerge every day. It’s the kind of show you can find yourself a perpetual awed spectator to, dizzy with wonder and surprise. Delicate shooting stars, deep blue larkspur looking like tiny wizard hats, buttercups, the omnipresent but nonetheless beautiful dandelion, and so many others I have yet to identify.
Nature’s way of making up for the in between season when everything is dry and colours fade, and the trails are lined with a sensible number of cacti but not much else. Make no mistake though, they will blossom too: a most spectacular visual treat we got to indulge in during our first spring in Kamloops.
Every few days there is a change of guard like no other. More wildflowers appear while others bid goodbye. It’s worth being a witness to nature spilling her bag of wonders. Stooping over one breeze-swayed wildflower has serious and long-lasting consequences though. You will find yourself mindful; not just of that flower. You’ll grow curious. That kind of curiosity begets more of the same.
Last year I compiled a tentative list of the plants I was stumbling upon during my morning and evening walks. An A4 sheet was soon filled on both sides. The process continues this year. It’s part of our homeschooling. There’s a different kind of satisfaction, one mixed with heaps of humbleness, that settles in as this takes place. The boys can attest to that. There’s just so much to learn.
Many of the plants we come across have curative properties. That makes you feel both hopeful and discouraged at once. With so much that nature has to offer, how come that we’ve distanced ourselves and our children so much from it for the sake of so little in the end, as nature-removed people often experience more fear and worry than joy and curiosity when out and about. We’ve learn to swat at a bug before we know its kind, and we have learned to call many a plant weeds for no good reason. That there are invasive plants is true, but would we know what’s what if we don’t look at them from up close?
For starters, the humble dandelion (yes, the most widespread species, Taraxacum officinale, is an old import from Europe, but has since become a beneficial wildflower). As a society, we have declared an never-ending war to the yellow little suns that we see as a pest. We spray, rip them out of the ground, aiming, year and year, for that perfect lawn. What looks flawless to us becomes but a bee and butterfly desert. We need more of both bugs for obvious reasons: food. Unprocessed.
We cannot hope to see beneficial bugs thrive and help our crops, whether in the city or in the country side, if we allow solely human standards to have the final word in what the urban landscape looks like. It’s simply not sustainable. Green spaces with a healthy dose of nature-infused ‘imperfection’ are but learning spaces for us and our children. With a perfectly yummy side: have you ever tried dandelion syrup on your pancakes? It will brighten your morning!
Yes, food has become the new obsession, yet the many cries from environmental groups and concerned beekeepers regarding the disappearing bees have yet to catch everyone’s attention. Why everyone’s?
Because everyone eats. It’s been said and repeated to death: severing our ties with nature threatens our own survival. Everyone’s concern pushes for changes benefiting our living world.
To be able to look at a dandelion plant and see its virtues before we consider it a pest, would be a good start. I am always bemused and slightly irked when I find dandelion leaves in grocery stores, usually priced at $3.99 a bunch.
An organic and free version is available in your garden (provided you do not spray), and on the side of many a nature trail. The whole plant is known to be a mighty liver cleanser and tonic, its leaves nutrient-dense and exquisitely tasting. That many of us are more inclined to reach for a similar solution that would come out of a container, for a price, is indeed puzzling.
Every spring, we are handed a beautiful invitation: come out, see, wonder, follow up with some reading on it, pick the edible ones or those with curative properties, and renew your connection with nature.
We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. The same concept applies, and not completely unrelated, once could argue, to our right and duty to vote tomorrow. We have lots to gain from casting a vote. Please do.