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Ditch Flowers

July 7, 2013

A few years back I was out in Prince Edward Island for a week long camp. The bright red soil, the ocean waves, the fiddles and atmosphere were not to be trifled with.

However, one of the first things that grabbed my attention when I came across the Confederation Bridge was the bright pastels of the lupines. These stunning flowers were everywhere. Bright purples, pinks and blue hues stood out almost everywhere I looked. I stopped the car at one point and got out to take a few pictures at the side of the road. The light was just perfect and the lupines were crying for attention so loudly.

As I was taking photos of the flowers, the farmer who owned the property came to the other side of the ditch and asked what I was doing. He wasn’t suspicious or being critical – I could tell from his face he was just confused why I was in his ditch.

I pointed out the lupines and told him I had not seen such colours in flowers before and wanted to take some pictures of them to show folks back home.

At this point the farmer looked baffled, wished me well and turned his back. As he walked away he said, “Suit yourself – they’re just ditch flowers.”

That comment got me thinking … perhaps, just perhaps I should be spending more time looking at the “ditch flowers” in my own ditches. Could it be that I had grown dull to the vivid yellows of the Coltsfoot or the violet of Vetch? When was the last time I truly appreciated the red of the Columbine or the calming blue of Chickory?

I have since taken the time to enjoy those little ditch flowers more. My own children get excited when they see Bird’s Foot Trefoil or Butter & Eggs. They can tell you from a distance what Herb Robert or St John’s Wort looks like.

And if you were to ask any of my kids, they’d tell you my favourite ditch flower is Deptford Pink – not native to our area – but glorious and I have little doubt most just pass it by without a second glance.

I’ve been able to share some of the old folk tales from my own childhood and they routinely hold a buttercup to their chin to see if they do indeed still love butter and they know what I mean when I say, “My every daisy you pick have an odd number of petals.”

This summer we are creating a summer journal/ebook of the flowers around us – their project, not mine. Photography, plant id, research skills and more – but the educational value of this will be a separate posting later in the summer.

 So, as you are on vacation, visiting family or doing other things this summer – enjoy the extraordinary. I feel it is important to do this for our sensory awareness however when you return, I encourage you to take the time to stop and look in your own ditches. You just might be surprised what you will find for with just a little attention, nothing, in or out of the world is ordinary or plain.



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