“Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful.”
–John and Stasi EldredgeHigh on the mountain slopes of the Canadian Rockies bloom some of the most beautiful flowers in the world. Part of their beauty comes from the amazing fact that they grow where they do. Surrounded by jagged rocks and towering mountain peaks, a tiny, delicate flower, struggling to grow in the handful of soil that it has found to put its roots into, seems rather out of place. This is a world of extremes, of ruggedness and harshness, until you see the gentle, beautiful flower blooming there.
Some of these flowers find shelter in the forests, growing deep in the shade, their delicate stems springing from deep, soft moss. Their bell-shaped flowers hang from slender stalks, a burst of yellow or red among the deep greens, browns, and blacks of the forest. They seem vulnerable to every passing footstep, yet they flourish here, sheltered among the pines and spruces that tower above them. Among the giants of the forest they grow, daring and almost audacious.
Others grow in the alpine meadows, where not even the giants can take root. Stand in a meadow, and survey the rocks and the spriggy green heather, and you will think that no flower could possibly survive there. Every passing wind would sweep them away, and the late and early snows of every season would freeze any plant so delicate. Then look again, and you will see the sparks of colour among the green. Tiny flowers grow here, red and white, dotting every inch of the alpine meadow. They cling close to the ground, hiding among the sturdier plants for shelter, and yet they brave the snows and the winds and flourish there.
Some hide themselves next to other shelters, growing close to the boulders that are scattered over the meadows. Beside a jagged rock that has jolted down from some peak far ahead, these flowers spring up, pushing their roots down into the cracks next to the rock. Here they wave their buttercups, sheltered from the winds, and so smile at the sun that smiles back at them.
I think sometimes of all the flowers that will bloom here unseen. Some come for only a day or a few days’ time, and then are gone again. I walked into one valley and came out again two days later, by the same trail, to find that the lilies had sprung up along the trail. There were only a handful, in a stretch of trail perhaps twenty steps long, which had not been there the two days before. How long they lasted I do not know, but I do know that I was there to see them when they bloomed.
There is something about these flowers, tenaciously clinging to the little bit of soil that they have found, fighting against the climate and the mountains for their very existence, that draws me. I have to smile when I see them, springing up in a place that seems to support no life. Their very existence appears impossible, and yet they are there, inspiring every passing hiker, who has to be as daring and hardy as they are just to get to the places where they grow.
Delicate beauty in a place of rugged harshness. A brief flowering among rocks that have stood for centuries. Life in places where life seems impossible. Take time to stop and admire the flowers and contemplate the message they speak to you.
~ © Bonnie Way