Friday, 28 July 2006
Just Once Before She Dies
It is high season for Queen Anne’s Lace, the most profuse of the wild flowers I see on my morning walks along Casco Bay.
There was just as much Queen Anne’s Lace where I grew up on the other side of the United States in Portland, Oregon. Back then, I never understood why everyone considered it a weed, and I still don’t. Its astounding beauty lies in its intricacy and in the charming surprise in the center of every bloom.
Tiny, white flowers grow into lacy, flat-topped clusters as delicate as a butterfly’s wing. In the middle of each cluster is one – and only one - Lilliputian flower of a red so deep and dark in color it could be a drop of blood. In fact, legend has it that the center red flower represents a blood drop from the finger of expert lace maker, Queen Anne of Denmark, when she pricked her finger with a needle.
All my life, I’ve been drawn to Queen Anne’s Lace along the sides of roads and paths, at the edges of meadows and where it irritates suburban gardeners when it sneaks into the outer reaches of neatly trimmed lawns.
And so it came to pass of a recent morning’s walk that an irresistible urge overtook respect for the law and - I confess it here to the world - I picked some Queen Anne’s Lace for a floral arrangement at home. And I didn’t stop there. I also cut two branches of those red berries I showed you the other day because they would help spotlight that single tiny red flower in the middle of each Queen Anne’s bloom.
It was a good idea. Look at how beautiful my first-ever Queen Anne’s Lace bouquet turned out.
In reality, I don’t know if there is a law against picking flowers in the park in Portland, Maine, but most cities have such prohibitions for good reasons and I support them. Even so, once in awhile an old lady’s gotta do what an old lady’s gotta do – just once before she dies.