Sunday, October 4, 2015

Going to seed

Several times over the past Summer, I've noted our roadside field seemed to be full of milkweed plants without any flowers. It would appear that I need to improve my observation skills, to learn not only to pay attention, but to pay close attention. Have you noticed how easy it can be to spot a bird or an animal when it moves? Well, with milkweeds, if the leaves and stems are moving in a breeze, so are any flowers. They don't stand out against a still background. To be honest, I did look closely at some plants, but only those nearest where the dogs and I walk regularly. The plants with flowers were further out in the field. At least that's where the seed pods that caught my eye developed and burst.

post-flower milkweed seeds
post-flower milkweed seeds
Photo by J. Harrington

I noticed them a few days ago as I was driving past the field on an afternoon errand. The westerly sun illuminated a light puff of something that at first I thought was probably Goat's beard. Since I hadn't seen milkweed flowers, it couldn't be milkweed seeds, or could it? When I returned from my errand, I traipsed into the field. As I came closer, I saw milkweed pods bursting with seeds. Yesterday I managed to get some photos. I feel better about that field but still wonder why we didn't then see more monarchs on it. Or, did I miss observing those too? I'll never know.

milkweed pods
milkweed pods
Photo by J. Harrington

a clump of milkweed seeds
a clump of milkweed seeds
Photo by J. Harrington

The Seed Shop

    HERE in a quiet and dusty room they lie,
    Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,
    Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry--
    Meadows and gardens running through my hand.
    Dead that shall quicken at the call of Spring,
    Sleepers to stir beneath June's magic kiss,
    Though birds pass over, unremembering,
    And no bee seek here roses that were his.
    In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams,
    A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust
    That will drink deeply of a century's streams,
    These lilies shall make summer on my dust.
    Here in their safe and simple house of death,
    Sealed in their shells a million roses leap;
    Here I can blow a garden with my breath,
    And in my hand a forest lies asleep.

    Muriel Stuart


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