The Daisy as Crone

August 5, 2013

“But an August daisy is a sorry affair; it is little more than an empty, or partly empty seed-vessel.”
— John Burroughs, from “August Days,”  The Writings of John Burroughs, XI, Far and Near

Daisies in August

Daisies in August



“In the Northern States the daisy is in her girlhood and maidenhood in June, she becomes very matronly in July, — fat, faded, prosaic, — and by or before August she is practically defunct.  I recall no flower whose career is more typical of the life . . .  How positively girlish . . .  is the daisy during the first few days of its blooming, while its snow-white rays yet stand straight up and shield its tender centre somewhat as a hood shields a girl’s face!  Presently it becomes a perfect disk and bares its face to the sun; this is the stage of its young womanhood.  Then its yellow centre — its body — begins to swell and become gross, the rays slowly turn brown, and finally wither up and drop. It is a flower no longer . . .”
— John Burroughs, from “August Days,”  The Writings of John Burroughs, XI, Far and Near

Well, isn’t this a dire look at growing old!!  Gross and withered.  Oh well.  I hope to retain just a bit of humor about the natural process of ageing.  I like this description by Margaret Drabble in The Pattern in the Carpet:  A Personal History with Jigsaws:  “A waistless stoutness lay in wait for all of us.”

“All things keep time with the seasons.”
Thomas Carew, “The Spring”

“The ephemeral nature of flowers whose blooms come fleetingly once a year to claim our admiration only adds to their enchantment.  Flowers and plants are dulcet emblems of the natural world — messengers from the landscape to herald the seasons.  They are points of light that sustain us with their beauty.”
— Ngoc Minh Ngo, Bringing Nature Home:  Floral Arrangements Inspired by Nature

Fallen camellias on my front steps

Stages of decay

Spent blossoms

The end of the camellia season. Time for something new.

Frost on fallen horse chestnut leaves

Frosted winter buds of horse chestnut tree

I visited my “adopted” horse chestnut trees on a recent frosty morning.  I am not seeing much change yet in the winter buds.  But the fallen leaves are slowly decomposing, and I find that the holes look like lacework, especially when the leaves are tinged with frost.  The array of colors in these “brown” leaves is amazing, too.

I am appreciative of the cycle of life and death this winter.  The decaying leaves will provide nutrients for new growth.

“It is inevitable that you are indebted to the past.  You are fed and formed by it.  The old forest is decomposed for the composition of the new forest.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Decomposing horse chestnut leaves

Decaying horse chestnut leaf

I love how the fallen horse chestnut leaves curl up like curvy cigars.

Watercolor sketch of horse chestnut leaves in winter