Sycamore Hollow

(Mill Creek)


Springtime. I never hear this word without thinking of a place that has been given the name of Sycamore Hollow by some of the people who live there. And tucked away in this little valley is a treasure chest of wild flowers that grow there by the thousands.

Some who read this will probably think that is an exaggeration, but please be assured, it is not. It would not be possible to count them. Each flower has a proper Latin name, but I've never bothered with learning those, since I believe the flowers are just as beautiful using their common names. Some have very fitting common names, I think, like one of my favorites, for instance, Shooting Stars. In this particular place, Shooting Stars put on quite a show for those who enjoy Mother Nature. Everywhere you look, there they are, during their time to grow and bloom, sending up tall shoots that contain little white flowers shaped like a star.

One that also grows there is known as Blood Root because it has a very red root system. A poor choice for a name for such a beautiful flower. It is one of the earliest to make an appearance in the spring. It looks like a little windmill with snow white petals.

A friend and I have made a spring time journey to this place for many years now, and several times have stopped to eat our lunch that we brought along beside a little creek that runs by the roadside. The peacefulness of a day's adventure such as this cannot be measured.

I couldn't begin to list each type of wild flower that grows there, but those that quickly come to mind include Catch Fly (bright red flowers), Trillium, Blue Eyed Mary (bright blue flowers), Trout Lilly (because of the purple spots on the leaves), Celedine Poppies (bright yellow), Virginia Bluebells, Virginia Water Leaf, Violets of all different colors, Lark Spur (rich purple), Star of Bethlehem, Blue Phlox, Pink Phlox, Periwinkle, Wild Geranium, Jacob's Ladder, Dutchmen's breeches, Squirrel Corn, and many, many more. I can only scratch the surface when I try to remember them all.

This particular little valley lies in an adjoining county. The road that leads through it was a dirt one several years ago when my husband, while driving through checking the creek for a type of fish called "suckers", noticed the abundance of wild flowers growing there. He came home that day and told me how thickly populated this place was with wild flowers. My friend and I give him credit for all the enjoyment we've had there since his discovery.

The road has been oiled and chipped since that time, a true sign of progress. Down the road a ways, there is a very large farm nestled against a hillside owned by a family who now live in Livingston. For many years, they made their home there. It is such a peaceful setting, one that makes it seem as if time had gone backward.

There is a large white farm house, a smaller probably tenant house that was more than likely used by an individual or a family hired to work on the farm (I believe this house has been torn down), and other out buildings nearby. The creek meanders along on both sides of the road. Most years in late March or early April, one hillside of this farm has a huge display of Shooting Stars with some Catch Fly mixed in. Since it's right beside the road, it can be seen and enjoyed quite easily.

A type of wild orchid called Showy Lady Slippers is not one I have ever seen growing in this special place, but I have on one occasion found it growing in a natural area near Jamestown. I've been told this plant is included on an endangered species list, and that itıs against the law to dig this flower.

I remember one warm spring Saturday morning that my husband and I journeyed to the Crossville Flea Market many years ago. And as we wandered through, we came upon a pickup truck. In the back of this truck were probably 25 or 30 Styrofoam cups, each one containing a pink Lady Slipper for sale for $1 each. I couldn't believe my eyes, and after catching my breath and taking a minute or two, I got up enough courage to ask the young man who had them for sale if he knew it was against the law to dig them. He let me know in no uncertain terms that they were growing on his property, he could dig them if he wanted to! Needless to say, I had no further comment.

I found that an interest in wild flowers is a means of escape for me. A peacefulness stills over me on days that I've used especially for wild flower trips. There are no September 11ths in the life of a wild flower. No daily worries that we mortals sometimes bring on ourselves, no financial woes, no health concerns. There are no pages of criminal activities that sometimes include names of family members or members of a friend's family to be shocked and saddened by. Each creation grows and flowers as intended, and most of the time, goes unnoticed by most people. I suppose the only real threats that exist for wild flowers are development by the human race, and/or pollution with the amount of garbage and other waste materials we create. We are their only real threat.

It's too bad our lives can't be as simple and uncomplicated as growing things. They were created just as we were ­ for a specific purpose, and even time hasn't changed that. I read somewhere that if a person will live each day with the intent to do no harm to another person, or any living thing, then that is what we were intended to do. What a different world it would be if this was indeed the way we each chose to live. To escape to the world of wild flowers is a real treat, and one that I intend to continue as time permits. It's a joyful experience, and I highly recommend it.

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