Frost Weed as its name implies looks mostly like a weed. Its claim to fame is that in the winter, with the first freeze, its stems tear open and make a beautiful swirly icicle. I like the metaphor that goes along with it, destruction revealing beauty.
I just spent the weekend on a retreat in the Hill Country of Central Texas. If you have never been you should know that it defies all stereotypes. Filled with rocky hills, deep canyons and spring fed rivers, it is a far cry from the arid plains that most think of when they picture a Texas landscape.
The Frost Weed was just starting to bud and I found it mesmerizing. It wasn’t so much the sight of the plant in front of me, it was the anticipation of the budding that was underway. Those buds would soon open, the white flowers would appear calling Monarch Butterflies galore, hummingbirds and all sorts of creatures. Seeing these plants in this state stirred up in me a longing to be there and watch it. To see the Frost Weed bloom and then to stick around for the first freeze. And then I thought of the Mealy Blue Sage, that hearty flower that brightens every meadow with bright blue and purple all summer long. And then the Lindheimer’s Senna, the pale yellow flowers that usher in the fall. Each flower knows its time and place and I felt a bit jealous for the stability of their routine.
Last year we lived out in this area, in a cabin on a hill overlooking the river. These flowers ministered to me. Their bold blooms gave me courage as they lived out their short life span with brilliant displays of color. They told me that the world will keep turning, that everyone has their time and season. Their consistency grounded me in the earth that was around me. They said you don’t have forever here but you do have today, and while you are here stop and smell these flowers and cut a few and put them at your table and welcome the world into your home.
This weekend I also read Kathleen Norris’ Cloister Walk with The Liturgy of Life Reading Group. In it she talks about her return to her grandmother’s home in a remote town in South Dakota and about being connected to a place. She says,
“To be an American is to move on, as if we could outrun change. To attach oneself to place is to surrender to it, and suffer with it.“
And this resonates with me. I will be moving this summer to a new region with new plants and rocks and geography. I’ll miss seeing the Frost Weed bloom and the swarms of Monarchs.
God is calling us to this.
My husband and my desire, as transplants from Ohio and Georgia, for years has been to settle down, to put down roots of our own somewhere. But for now God is leading us away from a land we love. I trust Him but it is breaking my heart.
I am grateful for our year out in the country, it was formative in so many ways and I think I can now understand some of what Norris is getting at when she talks about her connection to her town.
The transiency of modern American life is remarkable and many of us aren’t in one location long enough to even realize it. Until this past year I wouldn’t have understood how profound it was to have a place of my own, and I don’t mean owning a house, I mean a place that I know. A place where I don’t need to look in the newspaper to know that the rodeo happens the first week of July and the Christmas lights are lit the first week of December, the frost comes in mid November and most of the rain falls in May, a place with a familiar pattern of season and soil. I wonder if it is even possible to really care about the land or the world around me if I don’t feel connected to any specific part of it.
This summer we will again move and I am ready. But part of me longs to stay and to see the Frost Weed torn open and its glassy ice spiraling out, reminding me that our fates are the same and that we are made of the same dust.
All flowers pictured in this post are here thanks to the wonderful free archives made available through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Thank you!