Unexpected Beauty between Cumberland Farms and Rite Aid

Finally, finally the heat broke last week, and no longer do I sweat just sitting at my desk and typing. A good feeling! In fact, today is chilly enough so that I actually have on a sweater as I sit and work. And we have had a few glorious August days, typical for Maine but getting rarer as the climate changes: Hot,Β  sunny, and dry during the day—about 80Β°F—and deliciously cool enough at night so that blankets are needed.

One night, as I lay in bed with the windows open—I leave them open until it becomes too cold to do so—I listened to the song of the crickets, high, sweet, and sad. I heard the hoot of a barred owl. No cars drove by. Next door, no little boy tooted on his horn. No work across the street on a garage being built. Only the symphony of animals and insects, free from the noise of humans.

We humans have such a way of intruding. You might even call us invasive, and we have the gall of criticizing other species that seem to take up too much space, too many resources. But who are we to wag the finger as we burn through Earth’s resources?

I thought of this the other day when we went to our local Cumby’s, to get air for our car’s tires. As I sat and waited for Clif to fill the tires, I noticed an unlikely strip of beauty, wedged between the gas station and the road, with a Rite Aid on the other side. Luckily I had my camera with me.

This spot is a wet area, in its glory right now, and from this picture, you’d never guess how small and cramped it is. But here is an opportunity, and nature filled in. No doubt water creatures live there, too, caught between the parking lot and the road.

You have probably also noticed the purple loosestrife, which has been dubbed invasive, and I guess it is. But despite its name—did Dickens come up with it?—and spreading ways, it is a lovely flower that attracts lots of pollinators. Even though purple loosestrife is the bane of naturalists, I have sympathy for this plant that, along with with goldenrod and cattails, can bloom in a wet spot surrounded by asphalt and traffic.

One day, I wonder, will we be grateful for this tough beauty that has the ability to thrive in such a cramped area?

Who knows? But here in Winthrop, Maine, purple loosestrife has at least one admirer.


36 thoughts on “Unexpected Beauty between Cumberland Farms and Rite Aid”

  1. Most ‘invasive’ species got here because they were either useful (Garlic Mustard – first green of the year) or beautiful (Loosestrife, etc). Even the worst of them have their appeal. I think they are here to stay, no matter what!

    1. I think you are right. And unless there is major destruction of some sort, perhaps we should relax about it. Just a little. πŸ˜‰

  2. It sounds like bliss Laurie, pleasant days and cooler nights with only nature’s music and the purple loosestrife looks lovely! πŸ™‚πŸ’– xxx

  3. I have purple loosestrife in my garden, and the pollinators do love it. I keep it corralled in clumps and pull any others out. I am a lot more concerned about invasive vines, Virginia Creeper and Oriental Bittersweet, that are everywhere on the property borders snuffing out the trees. 😦 I do not have, however, weather that I would allow me to open the windows – 99% humidity right now. πŸ™‚

    1. You are the first person I have heard of who has purple loosestrife in a garden. Since we don’t have A/C of any kind and live in the woods, we tend to keep our windows open for most of the summer, unless it rains too hard.

  4. Lovely photo and your weather change sounds wonderful! I’ve always enjoyed my days kayaking by the lily pads and loosestrife with the butterflies, bees and birds always active in the area and I love the color. Our weather did not improve as much as I had hoped with rain over the weekend, humidity as a constant companion and back to almost 90 degrees today.

  5. As you say, a little bit of colour in the middle of concrete is always welcome. We don’t have purple loosestrife but we do have a very pretty weed that keeps coming up in areas of concrete and in our garden…. unfortunately it has an amazingly tough root system … So now it is confined to a pot.. In my garden!

  6. Here you are. I must have just been tired the other night, or WP was glitchy. Today it was easy to find you. I too love coming across those little green and colorful patches of nature, growing, inexplicably where you would least expect it. I’m with you, too, that we’ve encroached, and destroyed so much natural habitat, that we should appreciate any signs of natural life. I miss the sound of crickets and even cicadas. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard either one. Your garden sounds wonderful.

    1. Thanks so much! And also for taking the time to find my blog. As I wrote in another comment, because of you, the problem is fixed, and now readers can click on my name and come to my blog.

  7. I’ve thought the same about purple loosestrife. You can’t help but admire the strength of different types of weeds and their beauty as well as tenacity. As my friend Elaine says, “All flowers were once weeds.”

  8. I’m always noticing little flowers or tiny trees growing in cracks in concrete or other unlikely places–I admire the tenacity. I have to admit, though, I dug my loosestrife up. It was a cultivar they said wouldn’t be invasive but it wanted to take over my whole garden.

    1. You are only the second person I know of who has had loosestrife in a garden. In Maine, loosestrife is so reviled that no one would dream of letting it into a garden. Best left in ditches and by the road, I think.

  9. When I was a small child living in the city I thought it the most beautiful flower. It grew on wasteground on old industrial sights.
    I still like it as it’s so favoured by bees and butterflies.

  10. What a blessing to see this gift of nature while waiting to complete a mundane chore! I have similar feelings for Queen Anne’s lace. it is such a beautiful flower not only when it blooms but also when it turns into itself I guess to turn to seed. We allow them to grow in our gardens even though they are considered ‘weeds’.

  11. You’ve reminded me of the definition of a weed as ‘any plant having to deal with an unhappy human being’. Some of the plants considered weeds are treasures to me – violets, for example – but I’m not keen on dandelions or rose bay willow herbs. I was really quite shocked and alarmed the first time I saw a white rose bay willow herb in a flower border. But you’re right, we’d all do well to relax about it.

  12. We have a lot of red valerian – which is as much a weed as a flower in my view – but it feeds a lot of butterflies, including Hummingbird Hawk Moths.

    Everything has its place…

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