It took me awhile to correctly identify this particular species of violet, and I identified it incorrectly for awhile as a bog violet. It was this picture, actually, which helped me identify it today. The longspur violet, as its name suggests, has a spurred lower petal, which I didn’t notice in some of the other smaller plants of this species that I had found.This lovely little thing was sunning itself along the Hole-in-the-Wall trail. I didn’t even see it until I was on my way home. Once again, the variety and intricacies and beauty of the plant world never cease to amaze me. How could I believe that all of this was just some incredible accident? This all had to come from the hand of a loving Creator God.
The lovely state flower of South Dakota.
Prairie crocus. Wind flower. Pasque flower. Meadow anemone. The many names of our state flower are almost as exquisite as the diminutive tundra flower itself. Springing up in the earliest weeks of the spring, or even the latest weeks of winter, sometimes emerging to a world still covered in snow, these hardy little plants survive both blight of frost and chilling wind, covered in their silvery protective coat of fur.
They’re hardly worth remarking on before they blossom – They have no glorious foliage of glistening green, or beautiful petaled buds waiting to burst open. They cling close to the earth, almost invisible in their beds of pine needles and dead grasses. Yet there is beauty there, a strange, unearthly sort of beauty, and they hold in their heart the purple bud, waiting for the sun and the little bit of warmth. Finally the color is revealed, like opening one’s hands to glimpse the treasure held inside. Hunting for pasque flowers yesterday, the barely-waking ones nearly drove me crazy in anticipation of finding a fully-open, wide awake one. As enchanting as the unopen flowers are, how much better to find one in the prime of its blooming! We stumbled across a single patch of the wind flowers yesterday, in a little grassy area beneath some low-growing pines and junipers, near the rim of the Box Canyon. We saw a few there a week ago, without open blossoms, but something must have happened in the air in the last week. Some spell of springtime must have been cast.
Their dainty cups of lavender, velvety on the outside but dark-veined and satin smooth on the inside, opened cheerily to the sunshine. Although there were no spreading patches of the flowers, they did seem to like this one area. We had walked a long ways without seeing any – What was special about this one little grove of trees? As soon as one was found, it seemed the flowers were springing up all over, every time we turned around. Beneath this bush, and that tree, and hidden in the clump of grass over there.
Early pollinators were already hard at work, burying themselves in the yellow centers, going from flower to flower, busy and industrious, ignoring the human interruption.
And even fading, even when a few of their petals had fallen, there was still a loveliness, subtle and understated.
These flowers are one of the many treasures of nature that God has so carefully placed on this earth for our enjoyment and His glory – And I truly believe He means for us to enjoy them. Yet they are also some of the flowers most able to be overlooked, springing up in the still-wintry or too-early springtime, springing up and fading fast, or nibbled away by wildlife, or crushed underfoot. Unless one is looking for them, they won’t be noticed. And it makes me think that oftentimes that is how God’s personal gifts to us are, those things He does specifically in our lives to bless us and draw us to Himself. We don’t notice them in time, or we don’t notice them at all. They get choked out by the cares of life, trampled in the busyness, they wilt in the withering glare of our own selfish worries, they die unnoticed and unappreciated. We take those blessings for granted, and miss out on the greater blessing of recognizing them as being from the hand of God.
Given that my portfolio of wildflower photographs is growing in leaps and bounds, I thought it was time to start a wildflower identification project, partly for my own reference, partly for anyone else who is interested in wildflowers. These will be mostly flowers from the Black Hills, but I have a fair number of Illinois flowers in my portfolio as well that I’ll probably include in this project.
So my new page on this website is called Botanical Reference, and will be precisely that: a reference for wildflowers and, as I expand my photographic portfolio, pictures of their leaves, fruits, and notes on their growing locations, etc. This might be a little ambitious, but it is worth being a long-term project.