Monday, August 17, 2009

Requiem for a Rosepink

Perhaps my favorite wildflower of summer is the rosepink, Sabatia angularis. This generous, free-blooming pink beauty is not only beautiful, it's staggeringly fragrant, with a light muguet (honeysuckle) scent that makes me swoon. Wherever and whenever I see it, I stop the car, leap up the road bank, and bury my nose in it. I don't see it very often; in fact I only know one place around here where I can do that.

Rosepink, a member of the gentian family, grows in a little bunch, like a bouquet all ready to put in a vase. This is not a small, shrinking wildflower. This is a spectacular showgirl, runway ready, each blossom the size of a quarter. Mmmmm.


Close up, rosepink has a bewitching greenish-yellow center finely edged with red. Oh, for Smellovision.


I always look for rosepink on my birthday. And that night, I listen for the first katydids. Both were late this year, but that wasn't their fault.

This rare gentian used to grow in abundance in a meadow halfway out our county road, until a family we have since come to know bulldozed it all and plopped a modular house on the spot. They keep the featureless lawn shaved down to the roots, no shrubs; only a few petunias surrounded by mulch and a square of sweet corn off to the side. This, where butterfly weed, slender ladies' tresses orchid, and rosepink used to thrive, where I used to stop my car just to revel in it all. That meadow was one of the reasons we decided to live on this road.

Where do you even start to explain what they had; what they've done to the land, how they have replaced this rare and irreplaceable population of plants with their mundane and spiritless fescue; what a crime against nature they have committed? Well, you don't, because they wouldn't understand. No one who understands would have mown that meadow. You just remember, try to be kind, and treasure what is left elsewhere.


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