I am as drawn to wildflowers as I am to wild animals. I find them intoxicating, dizzying, especially when they grow together in great numbers. They are feisty and strong, pushing their colourful heads up in the wildest of places. They nod gently in the breeze or sway violently if the wind blows strong. Somehow, they hold their feet and return to their tender dance when the wind subsides.
The banks along the Nemunas are full of wildflowers, most of which I have never seen before. These Flowering Rushes (Skėtinis bėžis) are particularly prevalent, and grow both in the water and along the shore, even in sandy places. The stems are tall and strong, but the flowers themselves are delicate and remind me of orchids. Watching them nodding by the river, I was reminded of a poem by Irish poet Francis Ledwidge that I haven’t heard since I was a kid. When I first heard it, I imagined I was the fairy girl out of Leinster. Truth be told, I still do!
The rushes nod by the river
As the winds on the loud waves go,
And the things they nod of are many,
For it’s many the secret they know.
And I think they are wise as the fairies
Who lived ere the hills were high,
They nod so grave by the river
To everyone passing by.
If they would tell me their secrets
[: I would go by a hidden way,
To the rath when the moon retiring
Dips dim horns into the gray.
And a fairy-girl out of Leinster
In a long dance I should meet,
My heart to her heart beating,
My feet in rhyme with her feet.
Details of our journey along the Nemunas can be found here.
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