Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja), also called prairie fire, is a rare visitor to my gardens.Its red color is intense. Its seeds can remain dormant for years and following biologic activity can begin to grow.Because it is hemiparasitic it is placed in the broomrape family. It has modified roots (haustoria) which grow untilthey come in contact with a host (grass or forb)and penetrate the host extracting water and nutrients.
This poem is dedicated to GB.
She tells me that she likes Indian paintbrush
and if she could she says she would have
an entire garden full swaying in the noon breeze
on sunny Summer afternoons.
I smile at the old woman I have known
since I was a little boy.
Helga had a spirit about her.
a blue eyed mule of a woman.
She still talks about the time I misbehaved
and she paddled me good.
I acted as if my entire world fell apart.
She smiles "I am glad I don't have to spank you now."
A slight trace of German accent still whispers through.
She tells me about the days in Nazi Germany
before and after the war. Days of eating
Frozen potatoes and nights shivering
in a bomb shelter.
How she met the young soldier
learning of his kindness and love.
They raised eight strong children together
Four boys and four girls
Through long where house hours
and picking crops on the weekends
they all went to college.
Now she looks across her yard
at her perfect tulips
and her daffodils.
She wishes she had
I think to myself yes
Isn't freedom wonderful?