Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy In(ter)dependence

We are now the proud owners of a Burning Permit from Minnesota's DNR. We can, and probably will legally light up last Winter's brush pile some time over the Independence Day weekend (once we get our activation number) and join the celebration of our country's independence with a "bon" (good?) fire and maybe some noisemaking from the blackpowder rifle or one of the handguns. We wish each and all of you a happy, reasonably sane and fun-filled holiday weekend.

While out this morning doing some errands, including looking into the difference between free DNR burn permits, applied for in person and good for 3 days, and online permits which cost $5 but can be activated repeatedly for the rest of the year, we noted that prairie larkspur and butterflyweed are in bloom. The photos below were taken at the DNR's property in Cambridge, MN.

Carolina Larkspur, aka Prairie Larkspur
Carolina Larkspur, aka Prairie Larkspur               © harrington
butterflyweed
butterflyweed                           © harrington

According to Northland Wildflowers, Revised Edition, new growth of the prairie larkspur is toxic to cattle. The same source notes the root of butterflyweed was used in Native American and folk medicine for lung and chest complaints. [Although we already had several wildflower field guides, and Northland is a little large to fit into a pocket, the photos (larger than most) and information in the "Comments" section make it a really worthwhile addition to our library.] After this weekend, we'll start to shift focus from wildflowers to foraging as we start getting ready for harvest season when fruits and berries ripen. First though, John Haines reminds us that not all of us celebrate this holiday the same way.

Fourth of July at Santa Ynez

By John Haines
         I
Under the makeshift arbor of leaves
a hot wind blowing smoke and laughter.
Music out of the renegade west,
too harsh and loud, many dark faces
moved among the sweating whites.

         II
Wandering apart from the others,
I found an old Indian seated alone
on a bench in the flickering shade.

He was holding a dented bucket;
three crayfish, lifting themselves
from the muddy water, stirred
and scraped against the greasy metal.

         III
The old man stared from his wrinkled
darkness across the celebration,
unblinking, as one might see
in the hooded sleep of turtles.

A smile out of the ages of gold
and carbon flashed upon his face
and vanished, called away
by the sound and the glare around him,
by the lost voice of a child
piercing that thronged solitude.

         IV
The afternoon gathered distance
and depth, divided in the shadows
that broke and moved upon us . . .

Slowly, too slowly, as if returned
from a long and difficult journey,
the old man lifted his bucket
and walked away into the sunlit crowd.


                                                    (1972-76)


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