Hidden away beneath a tangle of dewberry, frog fruit, and milkweed, the tiny wonder lay only inches above the ground. A flash of purple drew my eye to its crinkles and curls, aglow even in the dim light of a cloudy afternoon.
I talked to the flower as I photographed: affirming its beauty and fussing at it for its ground-hugging behavior. Finally satisfied, I returned to the car, took off my boots, and prepared to leave.
Only then did I see the future, traveling toward us at the pace of a county mower. As the machine worked its way along the small road, enthusiastically chewing up everything in its path, a great cloud of grass, gravel, and dust rose above the shredded winecups and flattened milkweed. When I looked, my clematis had disappeared.
Inexplicably grieved, I watched the mower move off into the distance, and asked myself:
How often does a need for imagined order bring beauty to an end? How many wonders have we unknowingly destroyed? How many treasures will we allow to disappear, never to return?
Would I have placed myself in front of the mower to protect that single clematis? Probably not. Of course not. But will I remember my impulse to do just that? I certainly hope so. There’s a world depending on such impulse.