PRAIRIE WOODS AND WILD FLOWERS

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It was a different feeling down in the woods beside the swimming rock: cool and shadowy after the fresh prairie openness of the pastures. A chill, fine breath came from the creek, from the limestone rocks fringed with new green ferns. It was almost tremulously still. Down below was the dark shine of the creek.

There were wood violets here, smaller, a deeper purple, half hidden in nests of dark heart-shaped leaves. There was a jack-in-the-pulpit. I felt guilt, a loneliness, when the others dug up the plants with little trowels, putting them, wrapped in moist black earth, in the basket. We wandered far from each other, led on from blossom to blossom. At each new discovery would come some faint far-off call.

There were bloodroot leaves in a cold, watery place. I leaned over to touch the snow-white blossom. The six white petals fell apart like great flakes. … In a little patch of bushy timber a whole nest of anemones, pinkish, delicate, clear as bells on their hairlike stems, blowing in the sunny air. … I held up the fence wire and crept into a little hollow where the cattle’s hoofs had left watery circles in the black mud, and there, close to the bushes, were pointed dogtooth violets, frosty and white and crisp, just flushed with pink at the. petal tips. …

When we met again, our baskets were filled with pale green crisscrossed stems, masses of pink and blue. We walked back, down the brown, dusty road. We went into our cool kitchen and sat there, eating fresh bread and honey like the queen in the nursery rhyme. Our flowers were in water, filling the house with spring. We were warm, tired, happy, satisfied, with a woods smell on our clothes and a fragrance in our hearts.