Every year for the past twenty of so, The Farmer and I have been going to two particular secret spots in the woods in early June. It began when we were on a walk and found some pink lady slippers. The next year, in the beginning of June, we went again. The next year, we did the same. This has gone on and on – a June ritual. We don’t know if anyone else knows our spots and we haven’t shared our secret. This is what we found Sunday.
Lady slippers are so beautiful and fragile. When I was a child, my mother told me that they were very rare and very special. We were a family full of bouquet builders (I still am) but we all knew never to pick a lady slipper. I have always had a fondness and respect for these blooms. Their ovoid shape, the puffiness of the flower - they look like someone blew air into them. They dance above the two little leaves and the straight, strong stem.
One year Mark was clearing trees to dig a pond to water the sheep. It was close to prime lady slipper territory. The trees were mosly pine, tall, straight, and probably past their prime. He cut them down with his chain saw and the light came in. The next year, June came and it was time for our annual hunt. Near the new pond, the ground was literally covered in a carpet of pink lady slippers. There had to be over a thousand - at least that's how I remember it - a sea of pink dancing flowers. It was as if we were in some kind of forest dream. Every year, we go to that spot again; there are usually a few flowers but never as many as that one June.
What was it about that year? Was it the light coming in through the remaining trees that was just perfect? Were those seeds just sitting there, just waiting to germinate for a hundred years? Was the moisture just right? We'll never know and it will always be a memory and mystery that we won't forget.
I remember as a young girl, my mother taking us to a special place in the woods near our house to find Indian Pipes - a white, fungus-like flower that has an almost eerie, mystical, other-worldly look to it. My sisters and I looked forward to seeing the flowers each year. Then Mom and Dad did some serious re-arranging of the trees in our yard to build some new gardens. The Indian pipes never grew again. I have never seen them since I was about twelve.
It's amazing what happens when you alter the natural habitat of the earth. Sometimes beauty happens, sometimes it all disappears.