Season of Singing

In another life, I would have been a botanist. In this life, I am merely a fan of wildflowers. The unfamiliar lexicon of botany makes plant descriptions read like a cross between a scientific journal and a tantalizing novel.

I have learned to identify dozens of wildflowers, primarily found on hiking/biking trails. I also find wildflowers in roadside ditches, in vacant lots, and even in my own back yard. Because I am always seeking, I notice any little speck of color or interesting leaves that don’t seem to catch the eye of other people.

As a kid, I learned that thistles had to be controlled on farmland because they were invasive. Now I know that many weeds are labeled noxious – any invasive, non-native plant that threatens crops, wildlife habitats, or other local ecosystems.

This month, I have been squeezing through the barbed wire fence separating my yard from a pasture to dig up noxious weeds so they don’t spread to our yard. Until last year, the pasture behind us was owned by an old rancher who leased the land for cattle grazing. He sold forty acres to the local school district, which has no immediate plans to build on it.

Common mullein and houndstongue are two examples of invasive plants that grow in the pasture. According to the Wisconsin Horticulture description of mullein, “Individual plants produce 200-300 seed capsules, each containing 500-800 seeds, so that 100,000‑240,000 seeds are produced per plant.” Houndstongue does not produce as many seeds as mullein (only 2,000 seeds per plant) but it is toxic to livestock and wildlife.

A couple of weeks ago while digging up houndstongue, I saw a plant with hairy leaves that I recognized from my days searching for wildflowers in Colorado. I tried unsuccessfully to identify it with a plant app so I turned to my own photo collection. I remember struggling to identify the plant when I first saw it. Someone said it was spearshaped phacelia, a member of the Boraginaceae family. It is actually Western Marbleseed, another member of the borage family, described in detail on the IllinoisWildflowers website:

Each flower has a white corolla that is ½–¾” long, a hairy green calyx with 5 slender lobes, 5 inserted stamens, and a pistil with a strongly exerted white style. The corolla is cylindrical-angular in shape, becoming slightly and gradually wider toward its tip. At the tip of the corolla, there are 5 triangular lobes that extend outward and inward, effectively closing off the opening of the corolla, except for the exerted style. These lobes are often tinted green or yellow. The outer sides of the corolla are densely canescent, except where its lobes occur; the latter are hairy throughout. The lobes of the calyx are linear-lanceolate to linear-oblong in shape. Including its lobes, the calyx is about two-thirds as long as the corolla. The pedicels of the flowers are up to ¼” long (rarely longer); they are whitish green, terete, appressed-pubescent, and covered with appressed to slightly spreading hairs. At the bases of these pedicels, there are solitary bracts up to 1″ long that resemble the leaves….

Corollas and calyxes and pistils, oh my!

I also saw something purple peeking through the tall grass and weeds. This time, the plant app correctly identified the flower as spiderwort. When the flowers opened the following week, I confirmed this ID. What a shame that this beautiful flower is hidden in the weeds. And how delightful that beauty can be found by those who actively seek it!

Why am I so enamored with wildflowers? The beauties catch my eye but it’s more than beauty that attracts me. It’s their uniqueness and diversity. It’s their resilience, the ability to thrive in less than desirable conditions. Flowers are evidence of God’s creativity.

The fields declare the glory of God; the flowers proclaim the work of his hands.

Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.

Song of Songs, 2:12

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Lord, I seek your face. My heart has heard you say, ‘Come talk with me,’ and my heart responds, ‘Lord, here I am.’

Father, you light the way in a world that is dark and bewildering. I am safe and secure with you as my refuge. You rescued me from the bondage of sin and I am forever yours.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

Nations are in uproar; kingdoms fall. Though the world shows signs of falling apart, I rest assured. You are my ever-present help in times of trouble. The Lord Almighty is with me. Of whom shall I be afraid?

You will be exalted among the nations. You will be exalted on the earth. You lift your voice and the earth melts. Whom shall I fear?

I will not fear the future, for you are with me. I will not be distressed about current events, for you are my God. You will strengthen me. You will help me. You will uphold me with your righteous right hand.

No matter what happens, I am still sure of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Your perfect love drives out my fears. I praise your holy name.

Lord, my light and my salvation, I pray that the horrific events around the globe will lead people to seek your light. Comfort those who mourn senseless violence. Fill your people with wisdom, courage, and hope.

Amen

♡♡♡♡♡

Based on Psalm 27, Psalm 46, Isaiah 41:10, 1 John 4:18

Working things out for my good

June 1st marked the end of my first year working part-time after thirty six years of full-time employment. As I considered retirement, I read that I might want to tiptoe in instead of jumping right in. I’m glad I did. I still like working, but at this stage of my life, I want more free time and less stress.

Working part-time has given me the flexibility I wanted. I can participate in group Bible studies during the work day. I can take advantage of good weather to hike or trail run. I can volunteer. It’s easier to schedule appointments and to run errands. But honestly, one of the greatest pleasures is starting each day more leisurely.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

If I had searched for part-time work, I doubt that I would have found anything comparable. I had actually told my boss that I intended to retire early. He was the one who suggested that I consider working part-time.

God knows what I need. He knows what makes me tick. He knows that sometimes I need a nudge in the right direction. In retrospect, I can see his hand guiding me.

Thank you, Father for loving me and for working things out for my good.