Thursday, April 14, 2011

Draba verna -- A Love Song to a Weed

Draba verna, or Whitlow Grass, was blooming on a sandy bank at Moreau Lake today.

Within a few weeks now, Draba, the smallest flower that blooms, will sprinkle every sandy place with small blooms. He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba. He who despairs of spring with downcast eyes steps on it, unknowing. He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance.

Draba asks, and gets but scant allowance of warmth and comfort; it subsists on the leavings of unwanted time and space. Botany books give it two or three lines, but never a plate or portrait. Sand too poor and sun too weak for bigger better blooms are good enough for Draba. After all, it is no spring flower, but only a postscript to a hope.

Draba plucks no heartstrings. Its perfume, if there is any, is lost in the gusty winds. Its color is plain white. Its leaves wear a sensible wooly coat. Nothing eats it; it is too small. No poets sing of it. Some botanist once gave it a Latin name, and then forgot it. Altogether it is of no importance -- just a small creature that does a small job quickly and well.

-- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949


Anonymous said...

"a postscript to a hope" - love the image -
"altogether of no importance" - ??? I think that we all have our own job to do, and if it could be said of me "just a small creature that does a small job quickly and well" I would be well satisfied.

I've never read Leopold - something to add to my 'list' - Thank you!

Ellen Rathbone said...