Thistles and Cones

20120608-174920.jpg

There may be 4 seasons on the calendar, but here in the Ozarks our days and weeks are filled with micro seasons, one following another. It’s a part of the rhythms of this place – redbuds, rains, dogwoods, whippoorwills, tiger lilies, fawns – that’s just three weeks in April and May.

Right now one of my favorite seasons is drawing to a close – thistles and coneflowers – both grow wild along roadsides. Both can be a rich pink, both reach skyward, and both wither leaving just a round silhouette that lingers for a few weeks.

20120608-235704.jpg

The coneflower is actually echinacea. This one is a part of a group that grows near the bottom of my hill. This group mostly have very thin petals.

20120609-000019.jpg

There is a thistle patch right across the parking lot from my office. The city cut a drainage ditch and the turning of the earth has created an amazing garden of volunteers.

20120609-000244.jpg

The patch is shot here seems to grow in groups of two or three. The soil on the roadside is rocky and steep, still they thrive.

20120609-000427.jpg

Last year we had some very heavy spring rains and a hillside below a spring gave way – the trees on the hill were destroyed. The city planted some wild grasses to stabilize the slope, it looks like the thistles have volunteered to assist in the process.

20120609-000716.jpg

On the steepest hillsides the cone’s petals dangle and sway with the wind.

20120609-000952.jpg

20120609-001038.jpg

Both flowers have a distinctive radial geometry to their centers.

20120609-001238.jpg

This one makes me think of an umbrella frame.

20120609-001402.jpg

This one reminds me of a lampshade.

20120609-001715.jpg

20120609-001750.jpg

The center of both flowers dominate their shapes.

20120609-001923.jpg

My 99 year-old neighbor, Mary Jane, introduced me to thistles a few years back. She asked me to go on a hike with her down into a hollow one Saturday. I thought we were going to see a waterfall. We got to the bottom and she sent me up the other side to a vantage point. I scouted a path for her, thinking we must be headed to an amazing place. She took the lead and we ended up in a completely desolate path on the side of a mountain. It was a spot that the local electric coop had treated with herbicide – cheaper to use poison than to employ some guys with chainsaws :/ anyway, we had climbed to this place with a purpose. She took off her pack and handed me a stack of envelopes. Each was full of wild thistle seeds. We scattered them and hiked home. When we got back to Mary Jane’s place she took me out to a spot in the woods behind her house – we could see the spot where we had just been clearly in the distance. That hike was not about a waterfall, it was about resurrecting the ground that progress had destroyed. Mary Jane could no longer bare to look at its deadness so we planted thistles. Years later they thrive.

20120609-002738.jpg

The thistles are fading, that can only mean that the season of air conditioning cannot be far behind.

16 thoughts on “Thistles and Cones

  1. Pingback: URL

  2. Pingback: Extraordinarily lucky « Life in the Bogs

Picture your comments here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s