I wished to wade in the trillium
and be warmed near the white flames.
I imagined the arch of my foot
massaged by the mosses.
This field immersed in gravity
defying growth. Green and glorious.
It let me know that out of the
soil came I, and green I shall be.
Whether an unnamed weed or a
wild strawberry I will join in
~Luci Shaw from “Spring Song, Very Early Morning”
Spring is finally in full swing here on the farm. Grass grows so fast that mowing could be a twice a week activity, dandelions are dotting the fields in a yellow carpet, the flowering plums and cherries are peaking, the daffodils are spent and the tulips are bursting forth.
The koi and goldfish in our pond have decided to surface from underneath all the winter debris and have grown to another 6 inches over the winter and now are busy feasting on mosquito larvae as the insects have awakened as well. At times I feel so overwhelmed by the accelerated pace of growth and activity that I sheepishly long for the dark quiet gray days of winter, if just for the respite of a nap.
Instead of a nap, I hunt for trillium. They are the traditional harbinger of spring and without them, it all seems like just so much pretending. These are somber plants that will only grow in certain conditions of woods and shade, with leafy mulched soil. Once established, they reliably spring up from their bulbs every spring with their rich green trio of leaves on each stem that are at once soft and slightly shimmery, and at the top the purest of three white petals, one per leaf cluster. The blossoms last a week or two, then turn purplish and fade away, followed weeks later by the fading of the foliage, not to arise again from the soil until the following year.
Picking a trillium blossom necessitates picking the leaf foliage beneath it, and that in turn destroys the bulb’s ability to nourish and regenerate, and the plant never forms again. I think I have known this from my earliest childhood days as I was a compulsive wildflower gatherer as a little kid, having devastated more than my share of trillium bulbs until I learned the awful truth of the damage I had done. I have since treated them as sacrosanct and untouchable.
There are trillium blossoms to be found on our farm, a few steadfast survivors, yet completely vulnerable to someone’s impulse to bring the beauty indoors for a few days in a vase. What a tenuous grip on life when people are desiring to pluck them, with their resulting oblivion. How unknowingly destructive we are in our blind selfish pursuit of beauty for our own pleasure and purposes. These pure triad blossoms and leaves, representing all that is preciously drawn from the earth and enriched and nourished by sunlight, can be obliterated, never to return, never to bloom, never to rise again from the dust to be green and glorious.
How much more precious is that which rises again to bloom and flourish forever despite our senseless destructiveness? And He is here, among us, waiting for us, forgiving us for our thoughtless actions.
I look at the trillium longingly, wanting to touch them, wanting to own them and hold them, and knowing I never will. They are meant to stay where they are, as I hope to remain, rooted and thriving, yet still fragile in the everlasting soil of life.