Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Handful Of Wildflowers

I was looking through some old sketchbooks recently and came across this pen & ink drawing of a bunch of wildflowers.  I collected them on a walk to the beach about six months after moving to Beaver Creek.  Everything in my life had changed.  I lived in Portland prior to moving to Lincoln County.  Michael & I had recently married and I was still getting accustomed to my new life and new home.

I remember picking the flowers because I didn’t know then the names of any of them, or anything about them except that I thought they were pretty.  Looking at the drawing now, I not only know the names of the plants, but know that most have medicinal properties and what they are used for.  Plantain and self-heal for wounds, yarrow for fever and to staunch bleeding, red clover is a blood cleanser.  I see bleeding hearts, buttercups and fern fiddleheads as well.  I know more about where they grow, what conditions they prefer, what time of year they will appear.

In the recent issue of Potash Hill magazine, the article describing David Holzapfel’s elementary students‘ study of place [“A Small, Familiar Place,” by Louisa Pugh], the author talks about the students‘ need to name the place they chose to study.  

“Claude Levi-Strauss, the well-known 20th century anthropologist and author of The Strange Mind, wrote about the human process of naming places and features in the natural world as a way to create order, or ‘domesticate‘ the wild.  Anthropologist Keith Basso’s study of the named locales of the Western Apache revealed that giving names to places marked them as ‘place-worlds,‘ places invested with memory and emotional significance.  Naming is a way to metaphorically inscribe meaning onto the landscape.”

Now these plants are old friends and I’ve enjoyed them for twenty springs.  We’ve gone beyond a “first-name basis,” returning to no name at all.  “You’re back!”

Posted by jackie.

No comments: