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Summer is dwindling down, with midsummer wild flowers holding court now. Yellow seems to be the dominant color, from the pale shade of the evening primrose to the tall stalk of the mullein. The small aster-like heads of fleabane, looking just like miniature daisies, raise their yellow and white colors to the sun and nod cheerfully to the airy wave of Queen Anne’s lace. There is a spot more color in the orange hue of the wild touch-me-not, and the mauve heads of spotted Joe-Pye weed. Purple ironweed towers above all the rest.

There is a rare beauty in these common wild flowers, but a person must take the time to examine these things to truly appreciate them. You must get up early to see the most beautiful ones of all—the common morning glory. They are running rampant through the garden now, scraps of vivid velvet worth a king’s ransom. Many varied shades of blue, from azure to deep navy, twine up the cornstalks and wind around the upright weeds. Pale pink, deep rose and deeper shades of purple intermingle and reward the early riser with beauty for the soul.

When the sun beams down hot upon them, they curl up and their beauty is hidden. My father did not appreciate them, as it made hoeing the vegetables difficult. “This is all Mommy’s fault,” he would say. “She planted these seeds for flowers and they’ve scattered all over the place!” I’m glad she did. There’s nothing any prettier than a heavenly blue morning glory twining up a dry corn stalk, with a big orange pumpkin nestling beneath.
Have you ever taken the time to closely examine the tiny bloom of the wild touch-me-not? This is also called jewelweed, and it is easy to see why when one takes the time to really look. These pendant, golden-orange flowers hang down on translucent stems like jeweled earrings. The cornucopia-shaped blossom is red-spotted inside, and the mature seed pod virtually explodes when lightly touched—hence the name “touch-me-not.”

We had great fun as kids, mashing the swollen capsules and watching the seeds eject with force. The juice from the stalk is a good remedy for poison ivy. Scientific data confirms the fungicidal properties of this plant. It makes a good hair rinse for dandruff also. I have boiled the stalks and froze the juice in ice cube trays—it turns orange, and stored the cubes in a zip-lok bag. It is so handy to rub the ice cube on a rash.

Take time to smell the small blossoms on the evening primrose. This is such a small, unassuming flower that it is easy to overlook. You will be surprised at the exquisite perfume that it exudes. The blossoms on this night-blooming flower opens in the evening and closes by noon. They are pollinated by night-flying insects. I have read that the roots are edible, but I have never tried them.

When I was up at the pond examining the fuzzy cluster of blossoms on the spotted Joe-Pye weed, I almost missed a clump of blue flowers blooming at my feet. We called them blue gentians when we were kids, but they are not. Actually they are of the ageratum family, and are seen in the fall growing along creek banks. Daddy would make an arrangement of purple ironweed, yellow goldenrod, and blue ageratums and bring them to Mom. They bring back memories.

I thought of how easy it is to see the bigger and showier flowers that bloom, and many times we miss the tiny ones that grow at our feet. We need to take time not only for the roses, but to look at the multitude of modest wild flowers that grow along the way. When grandson Reuben was just a toddler, he was a faithful follower in my footsteps. We would go for a walk, and he had to sniff the wild horse mint (wild oregano) that I had crushed in my hand. When I nibbled on a leaf of wild peppermint, he had to have a taste also. We chewed dill seed, and he loved the coriander seeds that matured on the cilantro.
He is a grown man now, but I miss the little boy he used to be. Grandchildren can be such a joy. It is no wonder that the Bible tells us in Proverbs 17-6 that, “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” I might add that they are the crown of old women also. God made a perfect plan—your children grow up, then the grandchildren come along. As they leave the nest and make homes of their own, along come the great-grandchildren!

I have been having some growing pains lately. I fret because I am not able to do the things that I have always done, and I should be ashamed. I am still able to walk (with a cane!) and do some cooking and light housework. God has been good to me. Maybe I should tell you of my latest culinary effort. I read this recipe for fancy stuffed cabbage rolls, and spent quite a bit of time following the recipe faithfully.

They were awful! I wondered at the vinegar and brown sugar it called for, but added it anyway. I tested one before supper and could barely get it down. Criss ate one with the rest of his food (bless his heart!) but he didn’t ask for seconds. The dogs loved it though—it wasn’t quite as bad as the famous eggplant casserole I made one time. The dogs wouldn’t touch it. My sister Jeannie swore we had to bury it with a stake in its heart. I threw away the recipe.

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer