Several Aprils ago, I drove by a DTE crew lunching on a shady hill–my favorite slope on our Natural Beauty Road.
I pulled over to the right shoulder where orange columbine once danced in the wind, and turned off my car. I pushed the hazard button and walked up the hill.
“Good afternoon,” I said to the men. “Sorry to interrupt your lunch break.”
“We’ve finished, ma’am,” replied the boss. “You have a problem with your car?”
“No, but thanks for asking. I see you’re clearing trees around the electrical towers, and wonder what you’re planning for this hill. I’m rather fond of its white wildflowers.”
He stood and looked to his men. Although I can’t read minds, I declare they thought in accord, “Oh boy, another nature freak.”
The boss picked up his hard hat from a patch of budding plants. “Well, your timing’s perfect. We’re coming back tomorrow to clear the timber.”
I glanced to where several men still lounged and couldn’t believe the fecundity of wildflower sprouts. I’d never seen this plant up close on my walks. This was the only place on our Natural Beauty Road where this white flower bloomed for one short week. And it now needed rescuing like I did the columbine years prior.
I addressed the leader. “Would I be trespassing if I dug up some plants?”
He laughed. “Take all you want. It’s all history tomorrow.”
“Thank you!” I said and scampered down to my car.
Later, I glanced through my wildflower books but couldn’t identify the plant in its budding stage.
The minute the DTE trucks drove away, I returned to the shaded hill with a heavy-duty garbage bag and trowel. The leaf mold easily surrendered small rhizomes that bled on my garden gloves.
No, I couldn’t remember the ladies in my Seven Ponds herb group mention a plant with white flowers and bleeding roots. Another detail I forgot.
I left my bounty in the garage and consulted Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region by Wells, Case, and Mellichamp. Sure enough, on page 18 I found Bloodroot, Sanguinaria Canadensis of the Poppy Family. I love poppies.
Sadly, bloodroot no longer blooms on my favorite ramp. At times I’m tempted to trespass and transplant some rhizomes from my gardens. For the Lord knows that little white bloom transforms into a pod with hundreds of seeds for ants, rain, and wind to carry to new territory.
Gardens where the seeds root to flower first then grow leaves eight inches wide on short stems to shade the feet of orange, pink, and purple columbine, ladies dancing to cheer bleeding hearts and welcome unfurled ferns.
Dear Reader, I certainly don’t begrudge the DTE men for doing their job. I couldn’t do mine without electricity.
Now I recognize swaths of bloodroot on country roads. Delightfully, pink and purple columbine bloom above bloodroot leaves outside my study window.
I’m sincerely grateful for my nature freak gene, and the divine intervention of perfect timing.
Contact Iris at firstname.lastname@example.org.