Farewell To Summer, With Stars And No Worries

Lisle V. Roberts—that would be Dad—said many times, "Every day's a good day." Dad also told me the familiar, Wayne County name of this sweet plant that's blooming all around Kentucky right now, even on our downtown street: "Farewell To Summer." I can't think of many plants with phrases for names. I can't think of any so richly expressive. Farewell to summer, with a flush of tiny stars: Symphotricum ericoides (L.) —or maybe one of its many cousins. It has a lot of cousins. One of those cousins, Ruth's Golden Aster, is endangered in Tennessee

Here's an excerpt from a story George Ellison wrote for the Asheville Citizen-Times this week: 

Donald and Lillian Stokes note in “A Guide to Enjoying Wildflowers” (Little, Brown and Co., 1985) that, “The name ‘aster’ comes from the Greek word for ‘star,’ but the small-white-flowered species, called frost asters, should have been named after the Milky Way. They bear such an abundance of tiny blossoms among roadside grasses that they look like the mass of stars you see strewn across the sky on a clear night. In fact, one legend says that asters are a result of a god scattering stardust across the land.”

Another beauty lit my day yesterday, but I didn't have Dad's guidance to tell me its name. I did have his words in my head: "Every day's a good day," even the days when fall beauties remind us that cold, grey weather approaches. Even those cold, grey days will be good days, so why worry? That's another constant Dad statement, "I never worry. I just don't know how." Which helps make every day a good day, of course.

On the north side of Gratz Park , in crystal fall light, this young tree shone.

From a distance I thought it was a persimmon tree, one of my favorite Kentucky wonders, full of fruit that I somehow had never noticed. But it's something else, something equally wondrous, if not quite as tasty.

And about tastiness: think weeds. Perhaps not Farewell To Summer, but many other weeds (most of them formerly garden plants we forgot about eating) may be coming to plates near you: New Ingredients Sprout From the Cracks


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