Growing up, my Grandmother and my Father seemed to know the name of every flower, plant, and tree that grew in my hometown.
I wondered at their ability to know so much about God’s creation and hoped to be like them someday.
When I was 5, my Daddy brought home a book from a library sale; The Burgess Flower Book for Children. It was a rather thick book, with a plain pea green cover and a black flower. The interior offered a few colored pictures, but most of them were black and white. It didn’t need all of those colorful trappings to pique my interest, though. Thornton W. Burgess had a knack for writing a story, especially for children and I was hooked on the first page. The 338-page book was written in 1923 and chronicles four seasons in the life of Peter Rabbit and his woodland friends. They all took great delight in discovering new plants and the changes in flora and fauna throughout the year.
Old Mother West Wind and her children, the Merry Little Breezes, waft by and tell Peter and his friends about the new flowers growing in the green meadow. Peter’s friend, Happy Jack Squirrel, is always looking for buried nuts but manages to find the roots of flowers instead. It is a fun and sweet book, intended for children but, the author perfectly described the flowers and the habitats from which they grew. By reading the book, you quickly realize that Thornton W. Burgess was an avid observer of nature. My father often read it aloud to me, and when I got older, I read it myself and went outside and hunted for those same flowers that the Burgess characters discovered. Pressed between the pages, you can still find leaves and buds of plants that I found many years ago.
It’s funny how books can affect and stay with you forever. Even as an adult, when I walk through the woods in the springtime, I can still hear my Daddy’s voice reading the story in my head, and I find myself as happy as Peter Rabbit was upon finding violets in our meadow.
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week!