Thistle blooms seem so exotic, vibrant violet fringe spilling from brilliant thorny green vases. They’ve grown along the path all summer, thorny rosettes flat on the ground in spring slowly reaching upward as each month passed. The stems rounded with bony-leafed hands tipped with frightening thorns guarding the precious flower buds, such that I could feel them prick my skin as they did when I was young and running through the old cow pasture and reaching for the pretty purple flower often higher than my head, stepping barefoot onto the rosette of leaves on the ground below. The flowers are gone as soon as they appear, an overnight metamorphosis into a handful of wisp-adorned seeds set free to float on the breeze. I watch the bumblebee, happily coated with pollen, perhaps not even realizing his importance in this world as he bumbles from flower to flower, ensuring their reproduction for the next generation of thistles, and for the next generation of goldfinches, their nests lined with the down, their fledglings learning to eat the seeds filled with energy for their journey of migration. Neither the birds nor the bees can take it with them, nor the plant itself, but only thrive in the moment on the congregation of species, nor I, in my memories and ideals of this afternoon. I could turn my head, walk past, intent on my errands and work, but I spend at least part of an afternoon that might slip by, never to be remembered, held dear in that exotic green vessel.

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