|on walk, June 2014|
"All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower
wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind." --Abraham Lincoln
And I thought it was just another weed...
My walk the other day was just what I needed. Warm, but not too warm. Light breezes...
|...sunshine on pastures...|
But it was the regal crown of a flower atop a spiky thistle stem that caught my eye.
As is often the case, something of interest sends me off on a journey of discovery (hmmmm, shouldn't I be writing?) and I wanted to see what I could learn about this plant.
Turns out "regal" is an apt choice of words. Many might already know this, but the thistle is the national flower and symbol of the country of Scotland. The Order of the Thistle is Scotland's highest chivalric order ["chivalric" (adj): pertaining to chivalry; "chivalry" (n): the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, justice and a readiness to help the weak" from dictionary.com]. Prince William as well the Queen of England and Prince Philip are knights in the order. The thistle appears on silver coins and other numerous objects including jewelry, soaps, and tea-towels.
Legend has it that the thistle was named the symbol of Scotland way back in the mid-13th century when soldiers from Norway tried to spring a surprise invasion on the people of Scotland. According to lore, the Norsemen came ashore at night, shed their boots, and advanced barefoot so the noise of their movement would not be detected. The plan backfired when those bare feet came down on the Scottish thistle--and they howled in pain waking the sleeping Scots who then subdued them. Whether or not the story is true, the symbolism of the thistle (ahem, sorry for the pun) took root and is honored to this day.
Other facts about the thistle include that it is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years to complete its life cycle. It reseeds easily. It's a combination of beauty and ruggedness. It has a spreading, invasive root system, hence its classification as weed.
It also attracts the cheery goldfinch and fritillary butterflies. Oh, and was a favorite food of Eeyore in A.A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner--although Tigger found out it was his least favorite!
I'm feeling an affinity to the thistle. Maybe because my great-great-(how many greats back?) grandfather, John Young (1764-1854) came from Path Head, Scotland. And because I think it's a fitting symbol for a writer. After all, it's beautiful but tough, stubborn yet resilient. It flourishes despite all obstacles in the way. Its seeds (words?) sustain others.
Yep, I have more respect for the thistle. I might even adopt it as my signature writing flower.
If you were to choose a plant that represents writing to you, what might it be? I'd love to hear your choices.
(and for a real treat) Explore Thistles on Pinterest