It was a glorious day – pleasant, with occasional clouds passing through that kept the sun from being too warm. I was out in the front yard carefully digging up and bagging some plants that were happily growing, expanding their range into areas of the garden where I would rather not have them, or infringing on other plants. Thanks to our local Buy Nothing Facebook page, all the plants I was removing already had new homes where they would be welcome.
As I was bent over digging up some errant Solomon’s Seal, my focus shifted, my inner child emerged, and I was suddenly looking at the tall stalks of Solomon’s Seal as if I was about 4 inches high. What an amazing forest; tall, thick green and white speckled stalks with their elongated leaves providing a light shade; furry, yellow and black bumblebees the size of my head checking the dangling white flowers for pollen, their wings lifting my hair as they fly by. Shimmying up a stalk to get to the bird bath, I can support myself by sitting where the leaf meets the stem, and get a close-up view when the local Carolina Chickadee, who thinks he owns the place, stops in to bathe and drink. It’s so fun to get splashed as he ducks his head and flips the water off his wings!
After a while I run across a wide expanse of concrete, and duck into the umbrella forest.
This. Is. The. Best.
The large, flat leaves at the top of each Mayapples stalk form a canopy that allows very little sun to shine through. They are blooming, their pretty blossoms drooping down a bit. They grow below the leaves right at eye-level; just right for inhaling their subtle fragrance and taking in their soft white petals with yellow centers. It’s darker and a bit cooler here, and I tread gently on the leaf litter, wandering amongst the sturdy green Mayapple stalks and sprigs of blossoming Sweet Woodruff that come up to my thighs. Their soft, sweet scent mixes with that of the Mayapple. It is so quiet, the fragrance is heavenly, and the ants love it here just like I do.
There is nothing more soul nurturing than to sit down and lean my back against a stalk of Mayapple, watching the ants as they march to and fro in their business- like manner. Listening to their rustlings as well as that of beetles and other creatures as they move around under the protective layer of leaf litter. Looking up at the beautiful umbrella covering and heaving a deep sigh of satisfaction. Could the day be any more perfect?
Next thing I know, I’m back in my grown-up body, sitting on the walkway to my house, gazing at the tops of the Mayapple leaves instead of being under that otherworldly canopy. My senses are still tingling, my mind still in awe. My body is still sensing the Mayapple stalk, firm and smooth; my heart is still full; my being still in wonder at the beauty I have just experienced. I want to go back.
As I slowly come back to myself, my thoughts wander back to when I planted two little single-stalk Mayapple plants, purchased at the local native plant nursery about 5 years prior. I have so enjoyed watching them increase by a couple stalks per year, then much faster once they got established. And now I have a veritable forest . I may even need to dig some up and gift them to someone next year.
My child and adult selves meld together with joy and wonder at this small miracle.
Another day of magic in my little corner of paradise.