The More Things Change…And the Yellow Beauty of the Woods

Times they are a changing, to say the least! It would be an understatement to say that these are uncertain times. Businesses are closed or offer limited services and schedules. Social distancing is becoming the new normal and isolation is growing; even with Zoom and Facetime calls, “going live” on Facebook, and of course…we still have phone calls and texting.  The way we are relating is changing. People are working from home and home schooling, more people are “getting outside” and the planet is changing too. Dolphins have been seen in the Venice canals, goats have found a buffet in a Welsh town and there are many other examples of changes.

Amidst the change, routine is something I seek for balance and sanity.  I walk most morning at Reynolda Gardens. I vary my path and follow the pull and rhythm of this place that has befriended me over the years.  You see, this place is a sanctuary, a place of beauty and cycles, a place of history and culture, a place of relationality. I know most of the trails of this 129-acre gem in Winston-Salem. I’ve become a “regular” of the morning walkers and we greet each other by name or smiles or Southern “Hey”. With each day’s walk, I see a “new” expression of this beautiful place in blossom or leaf.  Witnessing Spring come alive is a mystical experience. Of my favorites are the ferns unrolling in the woods or the varying colors of trillium in the wildflower garden. Each emergence of life brings a joyful smile of hope.

There’s someone new in the woods.  She is a brilliant yellow and humbly majestic addition to the trail in the woods.  I met her recently, seeming to appear out of nowhere.  I hadn’t seen her in all my years walking the trail.  Is that possible? Had she been there all along? I snapped her picture and sent it to my favorite “Garden Gnome.”  You see, that’s the other gem about this sanctuary, the people that work here are amazing in knowledge and friendship.  “Garden Gnome” texts back that this yellow beauty is a Celandine Poppy or Woodland Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum). I thank her for being my plant encyclopedia and tell her to come see this yellow goddess of the wood.

Social distancing is taking a toll on my extroverted soul. I continue my routine of my morning walk in my sanctuary.  I return to my car and get the gift of seeing “Garden Gnome” and the new addition to the staff, “Big Foot.” We have a jovial conversation in the parking lot from the appropriate distance.  We talk about the large turtles in the pond, their amazing progress in the cottage garden and this golden beauty in the woods.  They share with me that the director, Jon Roethling, said that these poppies weren’t there last year.  Speculating that the falling of a big tree changed the sun exposure of this spot.

The Celandine Poppy is native to North America and found on the east coast and Canada.  It is considered uncommon and requires semi-shaded conditions, according to Wikipedia. Our state extension service states that this woody poppy is not native to North Carolina but can grow in the Mountains and the Piedmont. So here in our woods we have this uncommon beauty emerge after a BIG change. She is a joyful surprise.  Not only does she brighten my walk and hopefully the walk of others, she created a jovial thread of conversation and connection.

My hope, my prayer is that after all this social distancing, sheltering in place, isolation and pandemic pandemonium we will glean other golden beauties emerging in unsuspecting places. My heart is full of appreciation for this poppy, this place and these people.  I lovingly give the nicknames of “Garden Gnome” and “Big Foot” to these amazing friends.  They are bright spots in this time of uncertainty.  They are gifts of the garden and in this world.  Who are the gifts in your life? 

I encourage you to visit the trail in the woods at Reynolda Gardens.  Please don’t pick the flowers and leave this sanctuary as you found it.  Step into the formal gardens, meet the staff, and thank them for being the care takers of this gem in our city.

Blessings and Peace,

Blue Jean Oracle