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In the Fields


And the spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the spirit of love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest

March 9th -- A fairy from the land beyond the Rocky Mountains is blooming in our Cathedral to-day. From far away New England came the plants last year to dwell in our Cathedral here in the Oregon woods. We children love Arbutus -- that is why we placed it in the Cathedral -- whose pillars are the forest trees, the great tall fir trees; and whose dome is the sky. Near the altar bloom these lovely cousins of Rhodora and Rhododendron.

God made the flowers to beautify the earth,
And cheer man's charefull mood;
And he is happiest who hath power
To gather wisdom from a flower
And wake his heart in every hour
To pleasant gratitude.
-- Wordsworth

March 12th -- It seemeth to live by a rule of three -- a dainty, white fairy, blooming in the woods now. Three leaves, three petals, two times three stamens, three systoles and a three-celled ovary -- Trillium, it is well named. To the Lily of the Valley family it belongs. Who are its cousins?
March 15th -- Away back in the woods I saw him today -- he was perched on a limb and was sound asleep. I'm sure he must be a very sound sleeper -- this Saw-Whet Owl -- for I tapped on the tree several times before he woke up. He has another name -- Acadian Owl, and his scientific name is Nyctala acadica. Last year I found a Mother Saw-Whet Owl at home in an old Woodpecker's hole, one week later than this week. She was sitting upon six white eggs. Mice from the mouse-traps I brought her -- she liked them.
March 16th -- We found Asarum, the Wild Ginger, with its one flower so nearly like the woods' carpet of dry leaves around it. And finding one we found others, too. We did not pick them; but we waited near to watch the small flies come to the flowers. I'm sure that these flies aid in the fertilizing of wild ginger by carrying pollen from one plant to another. Other names also has Wild Ginger -- Snake-root, Indian Ginger and Cat's Foot. Azaro, Marie from Spain called it. Little Philip of France called it Asaret.

Such infinite variety appears,
A hundred artists in a hundred years
Could never copy from a floral world
The marvels that in leaf and bud lie curled.
-- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

April 2nd -- In the forest in the shadows of great fir trees are blossoming the flowers of the wind, the dainty Anemones. There is a dear old Greek story of Anemos, the wind, sending these exquisite flowers to herald his coming in early Spring. So we children love to call them "Flowers of the Wind." They belong to the Buttercup family and are cousins of Meadow Rue, Marsh Marigold and Columbine.

These little dream-flowers found in Spring.

April 3rd -- Deep in the forest His Star Flowers are blossoming -- only three or four inches above the carpet of fire needles are their dainty star blossoms borne on thread-like stems. Cousins of Pimpernel and Cyclamen are they.
April 9th -- "Yo-ho, Robin Hood and his fairies are in the world." We children hurried away from our play to greet them today. Red-flowered Currant blossoms all along the twigs -- why they are Robin Hood's merry little men. And few leaves are out before they are about -- telling us of other fairies soon to come. O, keep ye watch for Robin Hood's little men on the twigs of the Red-flowered Currant.
April 12th -- Hound's Tongue blossoms that were of a pinkish hue a few days ago, have now become blue. Why? -- because they have been fertilized and they always turn blue after fertilization. It was in the early days of January when first we found the leaves of Hound's Tongue pushing their way up through the wood's carpet. Why its name? -- look at the shape of its leaves.
April 21st -- God's bells are ringing a call to prayer in the woods today -- in the shadows of the woodland I found Mission Bell blooming by the pathway -- all its beauty blending with the shadows round about. Bronze Bells and Rice-Root both describe it -- flowers of various modest shades, all mottled and checkered over -- roots like little pearls or tiny grains of rice. Fritillaria is the name the scientists know it by; but to wee children's hearts the name Mission Bell is most dear - God's little prayer flowers, calling us to think of Him and all His goodness.

'Neath cloistered boughs,
each floral bell that swingeth
And tolls its perfume on the passing air,
Makes Sabbath in the fields, and ever ringeth
A call to prayer.
-- Smith

But hark! I hear the pheasant's muffled drumming;
The water murmur from a distant dell;
A drowsy bee in mazy tangles humming;
The fair, faint tinkling tenor of a bell.

Honey Bee
(Mark Cassino)

Deep in the woods I came upon a shy fairy knight -- Sir Grouse -- the drummer. Of him we learned this verse:

Then it is the stately partridge
Spreads his ruff and mounts his rostrum,
Gazes proudly round the thicket,
Sounds his strange and muffled signal.
First with slow and heavy measure,
Then like eager, hurried heart-beats,
Ending in a nervous flutter
Faster than the ear can reckon.

Quietly I went through the woods, and, seeing Sir Grouse, I paused. Every year I love to watch for Grouse Babies -- they are such darlings -- and sometimes I have picked them up -- and they seemed unafraid, looking up at me with their bright, soft eyes. I have fed them, and when they were grown up three of them still came at intervals to the end of an old log deep in the forest. Very much they liked different berries, insects and grasshoppers. I kept a special note-book of their ways and doings. It is their diary and is in another Fairyland book to follow this one.

And the wide forest weaves,
To welcome back its playful mates again,
A canopy of leaves;
And from its darkening shadow floats
A gush of trembling notes.
-- Percival

My dear little Great-Grandmother, who came from the far-away Southland, and who is my own dear Mamma's father's mother, to-day has been telling me about Cardinal bird, God's jewel ruby with wings, who sings and sings. When my Grandma was a little girl, a very little girl, the negro mammy would carry her about the plantation and tell her about the little folk of the field and the woods. Often she saw Cardinal -- and as she grew older she liked to go to the woodland and listen to the Cardinal. Grandma tells me lots about the plantation -- about when she was a little girl there. 'Twas in a damp place in a thick tangle that she found the Cardinal cradle in April time. This fairy is a cousin of Goldfinch, Grosbeak, Song Sparrow, Crossbill and Indigo Bunting. His scientific name is Cardinalis cardinalis. My grandma loves Cardinal -- so do I.

"What are the voices of birds --
Ay, and of beats, -- but words, our words,
Only so much more sweet?"
-- Browning.

Cardinalis cardinalis
(Mark Cassino)

"O bird that somewhere yonder sings,
In the dim hour 'twixt dreams and dawn,
Lone in the hush of sleeping things,
In some sky sanctuary withdrawn,
Voice of man's heart and of god's sky,
So in your liquid note impearled
Sings the long epic of the world.
And there is something the song saith
That makes me unafraid of death.

This day I went forth into the forest at the hour of sunrise. And within the forest I heard a sublime bell-like voice -- 'twas on of His Cathedral singers. Upward and onward the song of the little singer carried my soul; and nearer seemed the All-Wise Father as I stood in His forest Cathedral listening. He who in his singing lifts up the thoughts of the Children of Men to higher realms is this fairy, Audubon's Hermit Thrush. It seems only yesterday, but it is seven years since Uncle taught me this verse, which we children all love.

Then in that solemn hour I heard
A hymn that comes so sweet and clear;
So pure a tone, it seems to be
A bit of heaven's minstrelsy.

Ethereal Navigator

In our wild flower garden in the woods there is now blooming another fairy who came from the land beyond the rocky mountains. His name is Jack-in-the-Pulpit -- but he dwells not in our Cathedral, where first we planted him. He dwells not there now because we found him to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Why, the majority of his congregation consist of Gnats and tiny Flies -- and some of these do not escape from the pulpit. Really, one would not expect such a pious-looking creature, who is a cousin of the stately Calla Lily, to be capable of such cruelty. He is also a cousin of skunk cabbage.
April 8th -- Where the Fern fairies dwell in the wood there the Bleeding Hearts are blooming today. We children learned this verse about them:

In a gymnasium where things grow,
Jolly little boys and girls in a row,
Hanging down from cross-bar stem,
Builded purposely for them;
Stout little legs up in the air
Kick at the breeze as it passes there;
Dizzy heads in collars wide,
Look at the world from the underside;
Happy acrobats a-swing,
At the woodside show in early spring.

May 3rd -- Coral Roots are in blossom -- those members of the Orchid family, cousins of the fair Calypso and Lady Slippers, who have become back sliders -- that is, they do not get their food in the way Mother Nature intended all honest plants to do; but they live upon the dead and decomposing forms of other plants and are therefore called saprophytes. For this reason they have no leaves. Their flowers are hard to describe with their mottlings of purple and brown. Do you know why they are called Coral Roots? Do you know any other saprophytes beside the Coral Roots?
May 12th --Here and there and yonder over the moss-carpeted floor of the woods, over the fir needle carpeted floor of the forest, they are blooming today -- counted by many among the fairest and dearest of His forest blossoms. Calypso borealis, the scientists call them -- and so do we. One leaf one blossom -- the Master Artist's touch -- and we have our Calypso fairies.

There's not a flower but shows some touch
In freckle, freck or stain,
Of His unrivalled pencil.

May 13th -- Another guest from the land beyond the hills came to live in our wildflower garden in the woods last fall --came all the way from Pennsylvania to live in our Oregon wildflower garden. And this Dutchman's Pipe, cousin of Wild Ginger, we think a very interesting member of that garden. He is blooming now, and such quaint flowers. Teddy, who came from Pennsylvania two years before the said Dutchman's Pipe, has grave forebodings. He says, says he: "Dutchman's Pipe is going to take a tumble from that pedestal you have set him on in your minds -- just you wait and see."
We waited and saw -- waited and saw little flies with gauzy wings crawl into those flower -- crawl in; but not out again, for the tiny hairs at the entrance, which made their coming in more easy, made their going out more difficult -- in fact, they did not come out at all.
"They can't get out! They can't get out! They'll never get out!" shouted Teddy. Then we came home -- Dutchman's Pipe, leaning from the pedestal we had put him on in our minds -- leaning; but he had not tumbled yet, because we are going back tomorrow.
Later -- We came back again and again, until the blossoms withered one day and the little flies went away -- went away from the blossom with pollen on them -- went away to enter again some other Dutchman's Pipe blossom -- went away after having fed upon the nectar in the blossom. And having seen for ourselves that Dutchman's Pipe had not injured his guests, but had simply used them to his own advantage, we were a bit puzzled as to where to place him in our estimation.
"I thought," said Teddy, but he didn't finish, for he had waited with us, had watched, and had seen, and now knew.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

May --It is raining and I am here in the woods. I am happy here in the tree:

I hear the leaves drinking rain;
I hear the rich leaves on top
Giving the poor beneath
Drop by drop;
'Tis a sweet noise to hear,
These green leaves drinking near.
-- Davis

May 18th -- Ocean Spray is blooming in the woods -- Ocean Spray, with many tiny blossoms in panicles like unto plumes, cousin of the Strawberry, Rose and Bridal Wreath fairies.
May 22nd -- High up in the top of a Fir a wee fairy was singing today of the beauty and gladness of May; then winging his way he did come to another Fire tree and carefully hunt over the twigs for his food. His name? Upon his head he wore a bit of red -- Ruby-Crowned Kinglet is his name, cousin of other Kinglets and Gnatcatchers is he; and a bonnier fairy Knight it would be difficult to find, for busy and cheery is he.

It touched the wood bird's folded wing,
And said, O bird, awake and sing.
-- Longfellow

May 22nd --On the buds of the Dogwood I found four pale green eggs today. It was near this time and in just such a place that I found like eggs last year. And from these caterpillars who fed upon the Dogwood flowers and tender leaves, and in time changed into chrysalides, from which came five weeks ago -- Azure Butterflies, they who wear the Joyous Blue.
May -- To-day while going softly through the woods I met someone else stepping carefully, too -- 'twas the Oven Builder, whose other name is Golden-crowned Thrush, he who is cousin of many Warblers. Have you found his home -- his wonderful home? When you do it will make him all the dearer unto you for nearer do we come to our little brothers of the air as we know their home-life. When I was just a very little girl Uncle taught me this verse, and I want you to learn it too.

In the days of spring migrations, days
when the warbler hosts move northward,
To the forests, to the leafbeds,
comes the tiny oven builder,
Daintily the leaves he tiptoes,
underneath them builds his oven,
Arched and paved with last year's oak leaves,
roofed and walled against the raindrops.
Hour by hour his voice he raises,
mingling with the red-eye's snatches,
Answering to the hermit's anthem;
rising -- falling, like a wind-breath;
Strange, ventriloqous his music,
far away when close beside one;
Near at hand when seeming distant;
weird -- his plaintive accrescendo.
Teach us! Teach us! Is his asking,
uttered to the Omnipresent;
Teach us! Teach us! Comes responsive
from the solemn, listening forest

With every day some splendors strange!
With every hour some subtle change!
Of our plain world, how could we guess
Such miracles of loveliness?

Ethereal Navigator

June 1st -- Aurora is lingering this week on our Oregon mountains. Pink near and pink afar the Rhododendrons blossom now. We walk among them and feel as we linger with them that the Master Artist has just passed this way and has given through these fairy flowers a message for each new day, a thought for many happy hours.
June 3rd -- In the woods met I today the fairy Eurymedon. And how was he dressed? In cream and black, with touches of blue and orange. And how did he travel? On wings, four wings, covered with scales, arranged in beautiful patterns. And where did he come from? From a tiny egg on a leaf of Cascara Sagrada. Then he grew, yes, he grew and he grew from a tiny caterpillar to a big one, as he ate and he ate and he ate of the leaves of the Cascara Sagrada. And then? Then he changed into a chrysalis, and inside this fairy cradle went on changing; and one day came out a fairy with wings Eurymedon of the Genus Papilio of the family of Hesperidae -- Eurymedon, a Swallowtail Butterfly.
June 5th -- Among the Saxifraga fairies on the mountain side at the edge of the great forest I found the Parnassian Butterflies, they whose upper wing edges are transparent. When a small child as I wandered among these fairies on the mountain side I loved to think as I watched them that the Spirit of Winter and the Spirit of Spring to the Children of Men a thought of their friendship to bring, together had made, and had given to the world, this fair wonderful thing with the snow, and the ice, and faint colors of fair blossoms upon its wing -- just that its existence might ever and eternally in silence sing, year after year, of a friendship so dear between the Spirits of Winter and Spring.
June 6th --It is in blossom -- this exquisite fairy of the woods, American Barrenwort -- cousin of Oregon Grape, Barberry, Twin-leaf and May Apple. We children like to call it by its other name, Vancouveria -- this name having been giving to it in memory of the English Navigator, Captain Vancouver. We like the sound of the name, and we truly think that, if Captain Vancouver were here his heart could not help but be glad that such a dear plant had been named for him.
June 9th --In the woods among the mosses I met twin fairies today where blooms of Northern Twin flower, cousin of Snowberry, Arrow-wood and Honeysuckle. These twin fairy flowers were named Linnaea for Linnaeus, the father of Botany.

Beneath dim aisles in odorous beds,
The slight Linnaea hangs its twin-born heads.

Next Chapter:
In the Woods, Part 2