Spring Beauty 2014

Warner Park, 4/2014

Spring Beauty is supposedly the world’s most plentiful wildflower. Our front and back yard saw an explosion this year, for some reason. We’ve pounded the earth with our detours to the car, the mailbox, the Sugar Maple dog chain, and still, they bloom. And bloom, and bloom. Spring Beauty has been open for weeks. It is an equal-opportunity nectar source. Though it closes at dusk and during any cloudy spell, it spreads its petals wide to admit all comers.

Ha lachma anya, from the haggadah at Passover seders. Let all who are hungry, come eat.

The pollen is pink. I’ve seen bees laden with balanced, pink pannier baskets.

My neighbors adjacent on all sides do not have our Spring Beauty, and my guess why is because they mow as soon as the weather warms, before the trees leaf out. Too soon. They miss this glory. They miss the violets, too, which are abundant this year.

I look at the house opposite and see a costly, ugly yard. A lawn crew comes each week to mow, trim, mulch and whatnot, but what’s left are waving patches of onion grass thrown into relief by golf-course turf. The crew also sculpts privet into green meatballs. The funny thing is that each meatball is a slightly different size. All attempts to impose visual order are in vain.

I can’t say our yard has any curb appeal either, but at least it is cheap. Better, it is diverse, which appeals to wildlife. We’ve got messy clumps of violets, Spring Beauty, dandelion, ground ivy, speedwell, chickweed, plantain and mint. We’ve got the same onion grass, but because we haven’t mown, it behaves itself. No rotating blade encourages it to spear itself to the sky. Besides, we eat it. It’s good on bagels with a schmear.

Spring Beauty is edible, too. “Fairy spuds” is one common name. The little corms supposedly taste like potato. I’ll never know for sure because I cannot imagine sacrificing even one single plant for my palate. I’ve got plenty of food. The fairies might not be so lucky, and I know for sure the bees aren’t. Better to leave the flowers to bloom pink lures for pollinators. Because even if the world does have plenty of Spring Beauty, there will never be enough.

Let all who are hungry, come eat.