I love nature-- experiencing the simple joy of flowers, shrubs, plants, clouds, lake water-- all that stuff. I also like to think myself a student of how we approach nature. I love how we fix it to be just so, like in my periodic shots of the retention pond outside of the California Pizza Kitchen in Warrenville, IL:
Rather than approach this vista with contempt, like Thoreau might, I want to see and appreciate it for what it is-- the conscious work product of a well-minded landscape architect who made a series of choices about this spot. Here it is from above:
Can't you just see the ordered drawing of a professional there? I assume this little pond serves a purpose (catching runoff rain water), but it also provides a welcome view before pizza-flavored num-nums.
So while I dig this order that comes from our studied approach to nature, I am also crazy for the disorder of nature. And one of the most common ways for an Illinoisan/ midwesterner to get in touch with the joyously fractured nature of nature is to go into the woods and look at wildflowers.
So that's what i did, on Mother's Day morning, with a learned family friend, Lyla Rodgers, who took me on a short walk and pointed out wildflowers as we went. Here's the complete set and here are some highlights:
I had never heard of a Mayapple before. It is a very widespread flower that pops up in bunches and yields a teeny little apple. Careful, though-- apparently it has some toxicity:
The ripened fruit is edible in moderate amounts, though when concussed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous. The rhizome, foliage and roots are also poisonous, Mayapple contains podophyllotoxin, which is used as a cytostatic and topically in the treatment of viral and genital warts.
I like the specificity of living things. Marsh marigolds apparently really like to hang out near wet areas:
There are dozens of photos in the set, with links to more information about each species, but I'll leave you with one more, the Eastern Skunk Cabbage. Tear off a piece of this leaf and you'll know why it's called that.