Now for men too

A wild flower lover finally comes out of the closet.

“They tell me that you’ll lose your mind when you grow older. What they don’t tell you is that you won’t miss it much.”/Malcolm Cowley

Peter Warland

The time has come for me to come out of the closet and confess. It is my duty to alert my faithful — albeit naïve — readers as to my true nature. My closest friends and my family have already found me out and I only hope that our shattered relationships can survive. I am not positive that I can, not after I announce that I am a practicing …

Wild flower admirer.

It’s true.

That doesn’t mean that I mince about with a limp wrist; I’ve merely taken an interest in wild flowers. I get excited in spring when I know that I’ll be able to see some wild buttercups on Eager Hill. They give me a thrill each year. When I come upon a hillside smothered in bright yellow balsam root, I feel excitement. When I emerge from a tangle of slide alder and discover a sunny bank strewn with Indian paint brush, like my friend Paul, I am likely to exclaim, “Wow!”

I know virtually nothing at all about the biology of flowers. I failed that class at school but I think I know petals, then, when I check, they turn out to be sepals. This must have been a misprint in my Flowers of the Rockies book. Stamens are the male parts of flowers, I learned, and then it gets personal. I’d rather stand back and admire…

In my youth, apart from the huge bunches of bluebells I used to collect for Mum, I didn’t acknowledge flowers. If I did see them, I didn’t demean myself by noticing them. Later, as I thrashed about in the mountains, trying to be a famous rock-gymnast, I began to take note of fossils and various formations of geology. That was all right for a guy.

When we first came to the East Kootenay, our male friends were all hunters, so we hunted; it seemed to be the natural thing to do: a male necessity. However, hunting is in the Fall and that’s when most of the wild flowers have given up the ghost for the year.

Spring and summer are different. On our way up to the rocks near Lumberton, we could not ignore the Calypso Slippers that peered at us beneath the trees and, way up in Boulder Creek, I can still recall discovering those waxy pyrolas, almost hidden under fallen trees.

But flowers are female things and they sneak up on a fellow, the way women do. Like Rita.

We were invited to her house one evening and she showed us her collection of colour slides. They were all of wild-flowers and the pictures grabbed me. Soon I was avidly making my own collection of pictures until I realized that it was difficult to do well and that I should have started years before. I was hooked though. Even being scorned by my neighbours as I tried to photograph the myriad dandelions in my lawn didn’t deter me.

Then Wendy rolled up from England. She was a wild flower enthusiast from Europe and knew well all the blossoms of the Alps and Pyrenees. She recognized every flower we showed her and was ecstatic at the extravagant display nature put on as we traversed the ridge between the Bear Lakes. She knew different names for the flowers but then, neither of us knew the Latin names that biologists have given them.

My ancient face wrinkles into a grin when I recall friend Axel having a fit when we were up on Lakit Mountain. He suddenly leaped to his feet and gambolled like a drunken puppet down the hillside warbling ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music’ and then fell flat on his face. According to George, I trotted down to Axel and helped him to his feet, muttering, “Oh, look! You’ve crushed some eriogonum,” then tidied the damaged flowers.

This, of course, is completely untrue, but I still remember the glorious late summer orange blossoms on the plants.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

Chris testing out the potential new van with his caregiver Kerry. Photo submitted.
Kimberley man starts GoFundMe for urgently needed wheelchair accessible van

Christopher Green, a Kimberley native currently residing in Tata Creek, has launched… Continue reading

(stock photo)
Josh Dueck named Team Canada chef de mission for 2022 Beijing Paralympics

An acclaimed Paralympic champion with local roots has been named to a… Continue reading

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

What's happening at the Cranbrook Public Library
What’s on at the Cranbrook Public Library

Mike Selby The Library is now open with extended hours (with some… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read