If someone did a Top Ten list of plants that inspire, ferns would be there. Mayapples would be there. Giant oak trees would be there. Flowers that show up on their own, and bloom at the edge of a paved street, for sure would be there. I’m talking about plants with personality, plants that stir the imagination, plants that make you smile. Plants that make you write a story. It’s a short list.
A field of wildflowers, as far as the eye can see. That kind of imagination.
Ferns. A stegosaurus stomps the ‘earth’, the way we imagine the earth looked millions of years ago. With each step, the ground thuds as the dinosaur moves past vegetation…huge, prehistoric ferns. Yeah, that kind of imagination.
So, ferns. This is what I love about ferns. Well, for one thing, they hang around all year. They survive the winter. Like we do. They’re not fresh and robust when they meet the first light snowfall, or the last cold icy storm. But they don’t dry up and wither away, or lose all their leaves like some bigger, stronger, more impressive ‘plants’, otherwise known as trees. Buried under January’s coldest, iciest cover, the fern hunkers down, close to the ground. You scrape away the slush and snow and hardened icicles. And there’s a fern. I have respect for that.
Is there another plant that comes to life with the charm and charisma of a fern? I know, somebody’s gonna come up with some mushroom that pops up overnight in an interesting way. Nope, forget it, not good enough.
You can smell the scent of ‘earth’. And take in the filtered light shining from above through the branches of those tall awesome oak trees. Peculiar little mayapples cover the leafy-rich surface. And fancy green ferns unfold.
All those delicate flowers we planted in May, or June, they’re strong and showy now. Or they’ve withered and died. The tomatoes are tall, healthy, nearly out of control, ready to pick. And tall blades of grass that used to be bright green are a shamble of bent, disheveled straw.
The last days of summer always feel a bit restless. Maybe bittersweet. Like we’re living in yesterday’s moment, and holding off tomorrow’s worry. We try to relax, but there’s a nagging feeling … it’s almost gone.
This afternoon, heading out to the plant nursery, I reached for the dashboard and popped the Sirius button. The radio came on with a voice that was distinctly Dylan. It was The Beatles Channel, but Dylan’s song was a nice change of pace. Sometimes they play recordings by artists who inspired The Beatles. The program was Dark Horse Radio, a show Laura Cantrell hosts, which features George Harrison’s music. As they describe it, all things George. Minutes later, waiting at the light, I realized they were playing Dylan again. Both were songs I didn’t know.
The host spoke after the second song, noting that both recordings featured George in the instrumentation. She continued, as I turned into the parking lot, to say Dark Horse Radio was playing Dylan music in celebration of Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday. Whoah! Bob Dylan is 80 years old?
His birthday was on the 24th, and maybe I’ll spend the evening playing some Dylan tunes.
Bob Dylan. Surely one of the best songwriting talents of his generation.