The milkweed blooms

The monarch's host plant blooming near Chicago's Waveland golf course.Stuck in town for part of the holiday weekend, we walked along the golf-course trail The trail, which threads between the golf-course and the Lake, is lousy with what used to be called weeds on one side.  Native plants crowd a narrow band of sunny earth separating the gravel from an old chain-link fence bounding the links. Lindens, morning glory, strange grasses, thistles, and milkweed grow there in strident profusion.  I saw mysterious plants, familiar to me from childhood, whose names I still don’t know.

The milkweed blooms were particularly showy, each one an explosion of complexity, nature’s fireworks for the fourth of July.  The delicacy and precision of each tiny blossom sit strangely on a plant so coarse and strong, every cluster advancing through the same amazing sequence of shapes and colors, obedient to an order whose logic and necessity science has inferred.  Thoreau, fascinated with plant morphology, saw such forms as communications of a transcendental kind.

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