A Legacy of Wildflowers

Recently, my parents spent a couple nights in Cabin 2.


They had a great time on the Gunflint Trail, celebrating birthdays, testing out a new Souris River canoe, swinging by the house for evening ice cream, and doing a lot of hiking.

But when I asked my dad for some photos from their time at Tuscarora so I could post them on Facebook and this here blog, all I got were a bunch of wildflower pictures:

Irises in Flying Lake on their day trip into Bingshick Lake.Iris on Flying Lake1

The elusive Arethusa bulbosa orchid that prompted the day trip.


A wood lily blooming along Magnetic Rock Trail.

A cluster of pink moccasin flowers near the start of the B.A. Trail just outside Cabin 2.
BAMoccasinFlowersAll those flowers made me smile, not just because I also greatly enjoy wildflowers, but because suddenly it was so obvious why I delight in finding wildflowers tucked among the forest duff. When we were little, my dad often took my brother and I on outdoor adventures, not only to give Mom a little peace and quiet, but so he could look for whatever wildflowers happened to be in season. An early springtime hike in search of Hepatica impressed me so much that when we returned home, I declared to my mother that if I ever had a daughter, I’d name her Hepatica and call her Patty for short. I still have a copy of Peterson First Guide to Wildflowers from that era tucked on my bookshelf.

As we got older, the hikes tapered off and I started to prefer time inside with library books over chilly, mucky springtime hikes in search of teeny wildflowers, but by the time I’d graduated from college and was working at a Gunflint Trail canoe outfitters, I’d once again taken to walking along the side of the gravel roads with a wildflower guide in hand. I find great satisfaction in identifying the habitat where a plant should be growing in, looking, looking, and then, discovering the flower right where it should be. And yes, during the summer, my camera’s memory card has more wildflower photos than anything else.

It’s interesting the things that end up “sticking.” Maybe you’ve brought your own children up to the Boundary Waters or tried to share your love of wildflowers or the night sky and didn’t get the unbridled enthusiasm you expected. (I certainly wasn’t above whining on some of those wildflower hikes decades ago.) It can take time to fully understand experiences. After all, it’s taken years for the significance of my childhood wildflower hikes to soak in. In the big scheme of things, all those little prompts and introductions that were initially met with apathy often add up to something that can enhance entire lives.