S'Wonderful!

[Alfred William Hunt]

There are some things I'd rather just experience, study be damned.

Nature is the big one. I would make an awful, unwilling botanist, but a lover of the earth, of glossy vines and sticky leaves and carmine berries, that I am.

Everyday after the schoolbus would drop us off at the bottom of our long driveway, my brother and I (and later our sister as well), would make the long climb up to our house. Along the way we were faced with a myriad of diversions, especially during the spring and early summer. Where before we would hurry up to the house, cutting up through the steep hill and away from the driveway, in the spring months we would linger, plucking and picking and dawdling.

I'm sure we rushed at times as well, but I'll always remember the initial steps up the driveway, searching for the best honeysuckle vines to carry along the way. We would strip long sections of the vine, sometimes multiple sections, and slowly litter the gravel path with discarded, de-nectared flowers. The trick was to get there before the hummingbirds, and then to separate the green bit at the bottom from the long tube of the flower. If you were lucky, you'd pull the center stamen-thing with it and it's motion down the tube would carry the bead of nectar along. If you weren't lucky, or if you were just plain hasty, you would snip the bottom off with your teeth and suck the nectar out, bird-like. It tastes delicious, but came in such small doses that we needed a profusion of blossoms to carry long.

I have honeysuckle growing outside my apartment right now, and pluck some on my way in every day.

I found out recently that my other favorite plant on the way up the driveway is a variety of honeysuckle. I knew it simply as "The Tomato-Berry Bush," called such because the tiny little berries resembled mini-tomatoes, my all-time favorite food. The actual name of this plant is Arnold Red Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica 'Arnold Red'); we had one bush on the driveway and I was much more fond of it than anyone else.

(from birdmom.net)

The multiflora rose is considered a weed by many people in my area, but it smells so delicious, and its profusion perfumes huge areas of springtime air. I love the wild roses, with their smaller faces, sparser petals, and sunnier centers.

Other after-school remembrances:

hitch-hiker vines with their sticky, prickly leaves that we used to pick and stick all over our clothes. (with the little hitch-hiker balls that came from some other plant)
Mayflowers and the little secret flower that would bloom under the specially-structured canopy
Skunk Cabbage!
The smell of Zinnias, Mums, and Marigolds
The taste of bright green when you bite into a clover stalk
The gorgeous slanting of the sun through leaves and onto the gravel...I never encountered that effect without thinking: "This is what Heaven must be like."


There are some things I stubbornly refuse to know more about. I have found that it is easy to cheapen the wonder of a thing by learning all of the technicalities behind it. Of course, I don't think that to learn about something is to hate it, but there is a loud part of me that refuses to "study" those things which I find so wonderful.

It's the wonder that's the essential part: music is wonderful to me, all of the green growing things are wonderful to me, the stars are wonderful to me. Each of these is wondrous or wonderful for its own reasons, and each is enhanced by a happy interest. But I hate learning the facts about them. For me, the mathematics of the scale, the anatomy of the flower, and the mineral composition of the stellar body are in themselves very interesting, but they require a level of study which ruins the wonder of it all. It's as if I feel I am doing a disservice to the plant (or musical composition, or cosmic element) if I don't truly attempt to study it, and an equal if not greater disservice if I lose myself in the study of it so that the original is obscured by a mass of facts.