Lady Slipper: The Earth is Our Body
I am reading a beautiful book called Earth’s Blanket by Nancy Turner. She is an ethno botanist living in Victoria, British Columbia. She writes about the relationship First Nations of the southern Interior British Columbia had with grasses and small plants. As they wander across the land which sustained their lives, even in times of famine, they referred to the low growing green plants as Earth’s Blanket.
I wonder what they called the humans, particularly the greedy ones. You know the ones who reap so much and sow so little. Happiness appears to elude them. “I have seen grown men weep.” To quote a poem written by a woman who sold her body.
Nancy Turner writes about the hooves of cattle trampling the delicate native grasses and wild flowers. Their massive collective weight hardens the soil. Fragile rootlets cannot penetrate in the calloused soil. The blanket’s weave becomes thinner like an old woman’s skin.
My mind turns to violet, a shy flower seeking protection in the shade of other plants. Her heart shaped petals are purple or soft pink, pink the colour of the heart, purple the colour of inspiration. Both are so easily trampled.
I remember when the construction of the new subdivision began. “You can’t stand in the way of progress, “said the heir to the land. With my heart in my belly I dug up the Yellow Lady Slippers dotting the field. My friends were happy to receive them in their gardens.
Happiness? Perhaps happiness is a quiet moment. It may not require loud noises, or bright colours. In my life, happiness often coincides with simplicity. Like the sweetness of a watermelon, its pink flesh quenching my thirst. Mostly though, happiness is a quiet moment.
Where the erotic Yellow Lady Slippers grew, bright petunias now bloom. Every spring, the basements in the new subdivision flood. The home owners stand on their lawns scowling and cursing the builder. They thought they would be happy. Walking past them, I become unhappy.
Previous years, in late spring, I walked in the same place, seeking Lady Slippers. Their raw feminine beauty enjoying the sun while their roots sipped the coolness of damp earth. Finding them was not always easy. They enjoy their privacy. A moment with them, always brought happiness. Knowing they grew so wild so close brought me comfort, like a soft blanket on cold winters night.
In herbal medicine, Lady’s Slipper’s roots were used to calm female hysteria. I have been known to become hysterical. Usually when something is terribly wrong and no one wants to listen.
A woman told me the story of her breast cancer. “I knew something was wrong,” she said, “call it woman’s intuition. But I found something else to keep my mind busy. Then it was too late. Now I have lost my breast.”
I told her about the Lady Slippers. Then we both knew what was wrong. The Lady Slippers have disappeared.
Perhaps I will take up knitting.