Of all the flowers I found in the woods last week, I was happiest to see the bloodroot. It’s one of scarcest of the spring wildflowers, and has a strikingly pure white blossom. But my fondness for the bloodroot goes beyond its scarcity or beauty, and instead harkens back to an experience many decades ago.
It was then, when I was only 9 or 10 years old, that my grade school class went on a field trip into the spring woods. The teacher identified many wildflowers, but became excited when she stumbled onto one of the season’s last blooming bloodroots.
The teacher explained the origin of the plant’s name – the red sap found in the root – but then also explained that she could not show us because the plant was endangered, and could not be picked. We stood the looking at this diminutive, ground hugging flower, as if we were beholding a rare gem.
I think of that moment every time I see a bloodroot in bloom, and every time a say a prayer of thanks that places remain where these wonderful flowers still bloom.