It was one of my mom’s favorite things. It was one of mine too.
Springtime was and is a wonderful time in the lower Stoney Creek valley. It was a time to head out on adventures. A time to stomp in the creek, set out on a hike or take off on a bicycle ride. To smell the abundance of new life and to be in awe of all the colors that it brings with it. It was something that could be appreciated and admired by a young child. Often times it could even be seen as spectacular.
With the abundance of new life came the wildflowers. Some of which were very finicky and only grew in certain spots. Rocky spots with just the right amount of sun, shade and moisture at the edge of the forest on sloping ground at the base of a hill. This was the only spots that you could find one of mom’s favorite wildflowers. Fire Pink.
The time directly after or during the ending of a storm or heavy rain was one of my favorite times to set out on one of these adventures. To stomp in the puddles and find the rivulets of running water so I could send a stick down one of them, following it and imagining riding it and it taking me along to who knows where.
Wet rainy days such as this I would often take off on my bike. An old gold colored single speed Schwinn with a noisy seat spring and shiny chrome fenders. It was handed down to me by my brother and probably handed down to him by someone else. I don’t recall how we ended up with it.
Riding the old gold Schwinn up and down the driveway sometime in the 70’s.
I loved the way the fresh rain smelled steaming off the warm pavement as I rode. I wanted to get to Stoney Creek and see how much it was flowing. Hopefully more than usual. Maybe even roaring.
Along the way I would search for an old can or bottle tossed out some never minding car window. Unfortunately but fortunately for me they were not that hard to find at the side of the road or in the creek. I remember many of the old soda cans were rusty. You don’t see too many rusty soda cans these days. When I claimed one of these old cans as my own I would then head down to the creek to fill it full of creek water. If I was lucky I may even be side tracked by a snake or two. I will most likely see a frog, maybe a turtle.
With my rusty can in one hand and my bike handlebar grip in the other I would begin my search for wildflowers. Thankfully they were much more plentiful than the cans and bottles. Purples, whites, yellows and pinks and hopefully get my hands on that elusive Fire Pink.
My mom’s favorite color of all was yellow. However that Fire Pink flower was her favorite of all the flowers that grew out here. I would hopefully find it growing in its usual spots. When I did a rush of excitement would come over me as it joined the other flowers in my can full of water. The feeling of pedaling home with that can full of color was one of the best in the world. I knew how happy she would be to see them.
Her face said it all. Even though I am certain I had some ‘weeds’ in that can that she was most likely allergic to, I was none the wiser. She always seemed as though she had just received the best thing that anyone could have ever possibly given her.
I have been a part of this great earth for 48 years and shared only 15 of those with my mother. The springs back then seemed to last for, well, to last a lot longer than they seem to last now.
It is spring time now and I hear the rain dripping off the trees outside the old stone house as I write this. Still to this day when a storm pops up or a heavy rain I often think of stomping in the rivulets or sending a stick on another one of it’s great adventures. But whenever I smell the rain coming off the warm pavement or see a Fire Pink showing off in the rocks at the edge of the woods something else always comes to mind. That one hand gripping the can and the other gripping the handlebar pedaling like my life depended on it. I think maybe a big part of it did.
We usually find the Fire Pink in and around the rocks near the bottom of the hill in the woods in the above photos. The bottom three photos are of the Fire Pink that showed up earlier in the spring of 2017.
Silene Verginica (Fire Pink) http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=sivi4