Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Rare White Violet

My friend Barbara and i went out yesterday to look for a particular endangered violet. We are Plant Conservation Volunteers with the New England Wild Flower Society. I had been to this Lily Pond 7 years ago with another volunteer/friend, and we found the Bog White Violet (Viola lanceolata) growing just where it was supposed to be--3 feet above the water line. This year--nothing.

Barbara and i traipsed back and forth along the edge of the pond and found lots of evidence of beavers--an old dam; dozens of chewed sticks with the bark stripped off of them; several beaver slides leading into the pond; birches as big as 8 inches in diameter felled by beavers and then "sawed" into log lengths. Fascinating to see the tooth scrapings on the wood.

This often happens in the hunt for rare plants; it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. We searched and wondered how to explain the disappearance of 300 plants. Was the water level higher?

We were just about to resign from our task. Near the beaver dam, I was standing on one foot and then the other, waiting for Barbara-the-naturalist to identify various sedges. I looked down. "Well, here at least is a white violet," i said.

Barbara came to look; i looked more closely at the long pointy leaves. Viola lanceolata! About 35 plants, growing 3 feet above a little mud flat behind the old (and leaky) beaver dam.

Our actions and the results of our actions reseed themselves in this manner. Even after we are gone, like the rare violet no longer growing near the water's edge, the results of our actions will have reseed themselves elsewhere and taken root.

Let us do our best to act as beautifully as the little white violet.

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