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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Royal Field

A full field of iron weed, festive in a royal show of purple. A purple that out shines all other shades as it grows tall among the weeds of August.

Purple was named for porphura, the Greek word for a particular type of mollusk that yielded the color we know as purple.  The mollusks were rare enough or difficult enough to process that the color purple was reserved for royalty or very wealthy people. 

 Lydia, in the bible was a wealthy woman because she sold purple cloth. Purple denotes extravagance and beauty.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  A cattle farmer or a farmer cutting hay sees little beauty in a field of ironweed.
iron - a solid metal, tough, hard to destroy. Such is iron weed, Veronia altissima.  It gets a foothold in a field then soon takes over like a purple platoon of soldiers consistently creeping across a chosen plane.  As each plant is cut back, another or several others grow in its place, advancing until there is little room for grass. Grass, that valuable commodity used to feed cattle, horses or sheep whether raw in the field or cut and baled as hay. A field of purple means there is work to be done.  Ironweed takes over when soil lacks fertility.  Tough ironweed is important to infertile ground to prevent erosion but such a field indicates that someone should fertilize the field or let it rest without livestock for a few years. Cattle tromping over a field of ironweed will soon turn that field to mud where even less grass grows.
I, myself, refuse to be persuaded by reason.  Good sense and field management are lost ideas when I gaze upon a field of ironweed.  The power of purple prevails as my eyes and soul feast upon a royally embellished hillside. 

Like a pagan I recognize the creator in the creation. Like a peasant before royalty, I gaze upon ironweed, the queen of colorful weeds, and allow a momentary smile that this tall, bright plant, tough as iron has conquered another kingdom.

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