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Pastor's Blog

The Weewer or the Floweed

May 19, 2020

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Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

First Corinthians 13:12

Last Friday, I walked a long way down trails out at the Navarino Wildlife Area on which I had never traveled not seeing any flowers at all.  When I did come across some flowers, I had no idea what they were even after spending an even longer time at home studying every list of Wisconsin wild flowers on the internet, including one list I hadn't imagined existed, because although the list included lots of lovely flowers that were not dignified with the name "flower," they were, for some reason, called weeds, a lot of which are just as lovely as wild flowers. 

That the flowers I saw last Friday are regarded as neither flowers nor weeds is even more confusing.  I’m still not sure what the rational basis is for distinguishing between a weed and a wildflower.  Maybe there is a rational reason that there’s a distinction between weeds and flowers.  Maybe there isn’t.  Dandelions were listed as weeds.  Just because we don’t like a particular flower doesn’t mean it’s no longer a flower.  That’s not rational.

As much time as I spent trying to get a nice picture of those flowers, I didn't get a nice picture of them, so I couldn't include a picture of them with this blog, nor could I post a picture of them on my i naturalist page, so I could get help figuring out what it was. 

 

As I was taking pictures that didn't turn out, a copper butterfly of some kind (I looked the butterfly up to, too, on every internet database for Wisconsin butterflies I could find, and none of them looked quite right, but I do know it was a butterfly and not a moth or a weed, because its wings folded up and not flat).  The butterfly liked the unknown flowering plant a lot, thank you very much, but he or she was extremely wary of me and wouldn’t sit still for a second for a picture.

After looking at every single flower in every single Wisconsin wild flower database on the internet, I intuited a theory about the flower based on my repeated enumeration of the facts about the flower.  A lot of the flowers were growing together, sprouting small (maybe an inch in diameter), white, spherical flower clusters at the end of red stems, that were creeping along the ground and that terminated in three, dark green, slightly serrated leaves. 

Yup. Poison ivy. 

Very young poison ivy.  I had never seen poison ivy at that stage of its life before, having never had the time and a wild enough place available for weekly spring walks.  It didn't look like the classic, immediately identifiable, mature poison ivy that covers the sunny sides of trails and ridges and hills.  But it wasn't mature, and I'm still pretty sure it was poison ivy.

Lucky I didn't touch it. 

That I remember.

Maybe when it’s young, it’s only Mildly Irritating Ivy, instead of Poison Ivy.  Poison.  That’s a pretty strong word.

 

The path, like two of the other paths I took that day, ended in a swamp.  On the return trip from the swamp, I noticed occasional, small, single sprouts with three pointy leaves with yellow veins in deep furrows, one of which had a furled white flower about to bloom, another of which, and only one of which, I later found fully bloomed.  Of which I got a better picture that I used for this blog.  I'm sure Greene Isle Park is already full of trilliums.  I saw the floor of a small stand of wood full of trilliums along Highway 29 on the way home.  Trilliums, the quintessential northern Wisconsin spring wildflower, grows like a weed up here.  This year I was in Navarino the day the first trillium bloomed.  Which felt to me like some kind of weird honor or gift, since it was a secret moment no one else got to see at Navarino this year, because, well, I saw absolutely no one else anywhere out in the section of Navarino I was in. 

It may be, of course, that there aren’t a lot of people in the world who are interested in hiking through tick and poison ivy-infested trails that dead end in swamps.

But, of course, you don't know a trail dead ends in a swamp unless you walk on it, especially since there are no complete maps of the trails out at Navarino available.  So, if you want to know anything about Navarino, you have to risk walking a half an hour down a trail that ends in a swamp. 

And a half an hour back. 

That adds up.

Yet, even walking down trails that dead end in a swamp, I have seen lots of new things: Friday, I saw

·         a copper butterfly,

·         poison ivy when it was young and intriguing, not mature and luxuriantly toxic,

·         and the first trillium to bloom north of Kunesh. 

I've always been late for first blooms.  Not this year.  Down dead end trails there are lots of things to see.  On Friday I also saw:

 

·         spring peepers,

·         water striders,

·         and an amazing picture in the water of a creek simultaneously revealing rotting sticks on the bottom and newly leafing branches towering above it.

The gently wavering surface of the clear water allowed me to see both at the same time, if imperfectly.

Pastor Larry

Posted by Larry Lange