Sunday, September 07, 2014

Plants and Stories

Every old building has a story to tell.  Barns and old train depots, country schools and country churches, cheese factories and houses, these and many more have a story tell, it just takes a little digging to discover  the story.

Plants have stories to tell as well.  For years I have walked past a rather strange looking plant that grows at my farm.  It grows in clumps and some of the larger clumps resemble small shrubs.  Indeed, at one time I thought it was a shrub.

It’s a Lead Plant.  It has narrow, greenish-gray leaves and a rather striking blue flower that blooms in mid-summer. It will live for more than a hundred years and yet it never grows much taller than three feet. The older it is, the more it looks like a woody shrub.

It’s native to the sandy soils of central Wisconsin and is often found where big blue stem grass grows.  It’s sometimes referred to as a Prairie Shoestring because its roots will grow as long as 15 feet, thus its ability to survive on a droughty, sandy prairie, which is what I have.

I found two answers as to why it’s called a Lead Plant.  One answer: the plant’s leaves look like they've been dusted with white lead.  A second answer: the plant was found growing in southwestern Wisconsin when the lead miners arrived.  The miners thought that when they found this plant, they would find lead deposits beneath it.

Native Americans dried the leaves of the lead plant and made a tea from them.   And the first settlers in an area where the Lead Plant grew cursed it and called it the Devil’s Shoestrings because the roots became entangled with their breaking plows.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Look for the stories, they are all around us.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  My new novel, THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTY is now available. Go to this link for details:  Order from my website, or purchase from your local bookstore.

September 9, 6:30 p.m., Monroe Library, Limping Through Life.
September 14, 6:00 p.m. West Salem Historical Society, (West Salem American Legion). Barns of Wisconsin.
September 20, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Stories From the Land, Stonefield Village, Cassville.
September 24, 10:15. Wisconsin Retired Educators, Marriott West, Madison. Rural Wit and Wisdom
October 2, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 7, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, west Madison: The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 16, 6:00 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 19, 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Rm. 302, Madison Main Library The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
October 23, 7:00, Green Bay Neville Museum. Horse Drawn Days.
November 1, 9:00 to 4:00 “Writing From Your Life Workshop” The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI
November 8, 9:00-11:30, Sheboygan County Research Center, Plymouth, WI. Barns of Wisconsin.
November 1, 4:30 p.m. The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
December 7, 1:00-2:15 and 2:30-3:15 Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells(Two sessions) Wis Farm Bureau Meeting. Writing From Your Life for Children and Grandchildren.

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