"I think it annoys God if you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice." (Alice Walker, in The Color Purple)
How could you walk by a dotted gayfeather (Liatris punctata) in full bloom and not take notice?
We've had a horrible summer here - temperatures in the 100's for 53 days, little rain, everything is crispy dry, most plants are trying to decide if they're going to try to hang on or just give up the fight...and here is this beautiful dotted gayfeather, blooming lushly, as if in the middle of Plant Heaven.
I can't help it - my spirits rise when I see the dotted gayfeathers blooming now on my morning walkabouts.
It was seeing these beautiful prairie plants at the end of our first summer here that made me think perhaps we had a bit of unplowed prairie hidden within the overgrazed pasture out back. I only saw a few that first year - one reasonable patch and one other small clump. Now, 4 years later, even after this summer, I have 3 large patches, a couple smaller ones, and a few scattered individuals here and there. It's not happening rapidly, but it feels like the prairie is beginning to return.
The bittersweet part of seeing the dotted gayfeathers bloom is that I know it's the beginning of the final fall floral fanfare. Missouri goldenrod and annual sunflowers are also blooming now. The Canadian goldenrod is starting. Soon the other goldenrods and sunflowers will be joining in and the asters along with them. For a couple glorious weeks, the roadsides and gardens will be full of gold and purple and white - a final celebration of color before the muted colors of cold weather take hold.
Feast on the rich color! Fill up on the bright orange of monarchs nectaring on their way south! Delight in the clear blue of the fall skies! The bountiful fall banquet is beginning!