Monday, July 23, 2012
Heritage in Yard and Stitching
I didn't know that's what it was until it bloomed. It's off a corner of my neighbor's fence and it was out of sight until the purple blooms showed up.
I remember helping dad weed these things on the farm. They are tenacious and I thought they had it in for me. You must wear heavy, heavy gloves when handling them. Dad would cut the plant down and I'd be responsible for picking it up and tossing it onto a pile we were making. He'd then take the pile to the burn barrel and torch them. Cattle will not eat these unlike other thistles and a row of them is almost impregnable, due to the thorns on the leaves and stems.
And yet, I'm a bit torn because I used to have a goldfinch family in the yard and this is just the kind of plant they love. Given all the flowers on it, I could feed a couple of families or more than just goldfinches, (wince) but it's a noxious weed. Really.
How did the thistle come to represent Scotland and the Scottish people? No one knows. It's the stuff of a good legend. The story goes that a group of Scotsmen fell asleep while defending the country from attacks by Norsemen. The Norsemen came ashore at night, preparing to rout the Scots and claim the land. One of the Norsemen happened to step on a thistle in his bare feet, as boots were a luxury for the fighting man back then, and screamed in agony. This awoke the Scots and they routed the Norsemen and sent them home.
Whatever the real story, the thistle growing in my yard is synonymous with Scotland. Given the anguish I know it causes in a yard, can I summon up the will to remove it before it becomes a pest?
Beverage: Darjeeling tea