Monday, October 20, 2008

Wild Ginger Surprise

Have you ever looked closely at a wild ginger leaf? I mean really closely. Have you ever looked at a dried, pressed wild ginger leaf and held it up to the light?

Last week I began collecting beautiful autumn leaves, in my usual fall way, and placing them in the back pages of the huge Webster's Unabridged Dictionary to be pressed flat. Each autumn when I do this, I find the leaves from the previous year in the dictionary, all pressed flat, still showing the gorgeous color they did when I found them the previous autumn. I make the pressed leaves into collages of varying sizes, and them laminate them to make place mats or note cards or bookmarks or simple beautiful collages. I also make color xeroxes of the collages, before they are laminated, and these copies preserve the autumn colors forever (see post of Oct. 14 "Welcome Autumn!").

When I took the pressed autumn leaves out of the dictionary I found the usual beautiful red and yellow and green maple leaves of various sizes, I found oak leaves and dogwood leaves, witch hazel, catalpa, and ginkgo leaves, and then I found leaves from almost every plant in my garden. In looking at the leaves and holding them in my hands, I recalled that last fall I was unable to go for long walks in the woods as I had done years past, so instead, I wandered slowly through my own gardens and picked autumn leaves of many of the perennials I have growing here.

I found dried, pressed snake root leaves, columbine leaves, chameleon plant leaves, forsythia leaves, viburnum leaves, and turtle head leaves -- and then there were some leaves I could not identify. One leaf in particular got my attention, partly because it was so big. I could not remember what plant in my garden had leaves like this one. Its body was almost 6" by 4", rounded and very much like a violet leaf but bigger, and with its stem. I put it aside and wondered what it was.

And then I held this mystery leaf up to the light and was given a gift of huge proportion. There in the veins of this leaf, as I looked at it with light shining through, was the outline of a most beautiful lotus flower! I stared at this for many moments, taking in the beauty of this pattern, still wondering what plant the leaf was from, and acknowledging the beauty that is at all levels of the Universe, from the beautiful Sun and Moon in the sky, to the gorgeous autumn colors on the trees, to the pattern in the veins of this dried leaf from my gardens that I had collected 1 year earlier. And at the time I was unaware of the lotus in the leaf.

The next day, I wandered through my gardens and forgot to look for the plant that created this leaf. Back inside, I gazed at the magical lotus in the leaf and the plant popped into my mind. It is WILD GINGER!!! I have a large area of wild ginger under the pine trees in the back, where I planted it 10 years ago. It has spread well but not in an invasive way, and I remembered noticing before how similar the wild ginger leaves are to violet leaves, only larger.

So this morning, I went out in the cold air (it was below freezing last night) and found a wild ginger leaf that had not yet died and I picked it to press for next year.

Because I want to be reminded how much more beauty there is all around me, even more than I know -- and I have been able to find beauty everywhere in the world. Thank you, Universe, for the wild ginger surprise!

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