The subject of enchantment this week is daisies. The most familiar of the flowers – the poor daisies whose petals I plucked one at a time as a child to discover the answer to a question I wouldn’t care about for many years to come: Does he love me? And after removing all the petals, I went for what I thought were the seeds. I can still remember the silky feel of hundreds of them rubbing against my fingers. And the smell. The fresh, earthy, daisy scent.
Although I couldn’t bear to do that now, as a child, dismembering the defenseless daisies must have been a way to explore what they were made of. To explore a living thing.
Daisies seem so animate to me. I am convinced that they love to dance in the wind – tall, slender stalks moving back and forth and in circles with faces turned skyward. It doesn’t require much imagination to look at a patch of daisies and perceive distinct family clusters.
While photographing daisies this week, I became aware of something I’d never noticed before: The outer rows of what becomes the seed head looked like minuscule flowers that had opened – just as the floral seed heads of sunflowers do. (In botanical terms, it’s referred to as a flower head or floral head.) When a detail like that reveals itself all of a sudden, I never cease to be amazed that it took me so long to notice something that was right in front of my face all along. How could I have missed it when it is so obvious?
Honestly, I’m often glad that I never took a botany course because I enjoy the childlike sense of wonder I experience when I notice something on my own and become fueled with desire to learn more about it. That’s the kind of learner I (and many others) am. My deepest motivation to learn stems from having a personal connection with something and a sense of curiosity about it – when something is personally relevant and meaningful to me. Ideally – and when given the freedom to do so – that’s how I like to teach, as well. When I was homeschooling my daughter, we named our home school “Seeds of Wonder.” I feel that wonder is a cornerstone of early childhood education – for wonder is a precursor to inquiry, understanding, and love, and an antidote to arrogance and apathy.
I have been fascinated by so many plants, trees, and forms of wildlife in recent years. Each one offers its own wonders and charms to those who have eyes to truly see. By this I mean seeing something with fresh eyes as if for the first time – a perception free from labels and academic knowledge. I think you could pick pretty much anything in the natural world to focus on and be astonished by – and then be inspired to learn how it is connected to everything else. Every flower, animal, tree, bird, insect, etc. is a window to the mysteries and interdependent nature of our universe. You could choose any one thing as a means to learn about the cycles, processes, and relationships of the world-at-large.
I suppose it makes sense to have such thoughts in response to observing daisies. A dream of daisies was perhaps the first unitive experience I had, back in my late twenties. Before I learned I was pregnant with my firstborn child, I had a powerful and intensely peaceful dream in which I was dancing in a circle with others who heard music I couldn’t hear. It was the music of all that simultaneously creates and is created. Then I lowered my head to the ground and heard for myself the symphony of the dancing flowers (daisies), and my heart beat in time with the rhythm of all life. Daisies are symbols of childlike innocence, and no wonder I learned about the universal rhythm of life from them in my dream. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was taking on a more intimate role in the dance of creation, the circle of life. Six months shy of twenty years later, I remain drawn to daisies and their wildflower wisdom!
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