July 26, 2000

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


Do you remember those bumper stickers that would say, “I brake for Dogs” or “I brake for Lawyers”? Well, maybe the second one doesn’t exist, but on my lawn mower I have a bumper sticker that says, “I brake for wild flowers.” Our yard, during the summer, often looks uneven because I will mow around many of the wild flowers that have made our yard home. Wild flowers are one of the wonders of the Northland that really doesn’t get enough respect. That is too bad, because I just love seeing them.

This summer I have had to play chauffeur for my kidlets. One needs to go to Duluth every Sunday and then is picked up every Friday for a Science Camp at St. Scholastica. Another had a one week Choir Camp at Bemidji for a week. One of the things that keep all those miles from being so boring is the miles and miles of wild flowers.

The three flowers that I really love seeing are Daisies, Indian Paint Brush and the Black Eyed Susans. When it comes to the roadside flowerbeds the Daisy is King. Between Duluth and Ely there must be a millions of them. Most are just along the highway, but every once in a while you will see an entire field of them. The concentration of so many Daisies in a field just makes you want to stop and sit in the middle of it. Life looks pretty idyllic from the middle of a Daisy field.

For a small flower the Indian Paint Brush packs a big wallop of color. The small bright orange-red pedals really stick out amongst all those Daisies. Some flower books refer to this flower as the Devil’s Paint Brush, but I cannot see assigning such a lovely little flower as a possession of the Dark Prince.

Now with August upon us, the Black Eyed Susans are replacing the Daisies as they prepare to shed their pedals and seeds. The yellow pedals of the Black Eyed Susans seem to foreshadow the mass of yellow leaves that are soon to come. However, for now, I still think of the Black Eyed Susans as a symbol of high summer. They stand for all the sunny days we have enjoyed and will enjoy.

I know there are dozens and dozens of other wild flowers, but they just don’t have the presence of the other two. Either they are too small to see while one drives down Highway 53 at 80 mph, or there are not many of them growing by each other.

My wife finally got the gardening spirit last week and finished planting the flowers she bought a while ago. To those I have added several mounds of Daisies. As a surprise, I have added other flowers for next year’s garden. I had to take my middle kidlet to Wolfridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland last Monday and on the way back I stopped four or five times to pick either entire flower plants or their seeds. Hopefully, due to my green thumb efforts, we will have a bunch of Daisies, Indian Paint Brush and Black Eyed Susans growing in next year’s flower garden. Then I won’t have to drive hundreds of miles to get my wild flower fix.

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