Friday, February 21, 2014

February 20, 2014 Readings



Hugh read this passage about hepatica from Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast:


"There are many things left for May, but nothing fairer, if as fair, as the first flower, the hepatica. I find I have never admired this firstling half enough. When at the maturity of its charms, it is certainly the gem of the woods" (p.188) The flower has inspired several poetic tributes by Burroughs and others, among them William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878):

Blue as the heaven it gazes at,
Startling the loiterer in the naked groves
With unexpected beauty; for the time
Of blossoms and green leaves is yet afar.

[The Burroughs quotations is from Signs and Seasons, 1887, Houghton Mifflin, p. 188; quoted in Gracie, C, 2012, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast, Princeton University Press, p. 95]

Dale read passages from Henry David Thoreau's The Dispersion of Seeds:

...these dense and stretching oak forests, whose withered leaves now redden and rustle on the hills for many a New England mile, were all planted by the labor of animals....
Consider what a vast work these forest planters are doing!  So far as our noblest hardwood forests are concerned, the animals, especially squirrels and jays, are our greatest and almost our only benefactors.  It is to them that we owe this gift.  It is not in vain that a squirrel lives in almost every forest tree or hollow log or wall or heap of stones....
And what is the character of our gratitude to the squirrels...?  Are they on our pension list?  Have we recognized their services?  We regard them as vermin....  We should be more civilized as well as humane if we recognized once in a year by some symbolical ceremony the part which the squirrel plays in the economy of Nature.

[Quoted in Clifford Blizard's blog, the Atlanta Nature Examiner for July 22, 2010.]

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