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The Blue Flower and Other Stories

Wood-Magic
There are three vines that belong to the ancient forest. Elsewhere they will not grow,
though the soil prepared for them be never so rich, the shade of the arbour built for them
never so closely and cunningly woven. Their delicate, thread-like roots take no hold upon
the earth tilled and troubled by the fingers of man. The fine sap that steals through their
long, slender limbs pauses and fails when they are watered by human hands. Silently the
secret of their life retreats and shrinks away and hides itself.
But in the woods, where falling leaves and crumbling tree-trunks and wilting ferns have
been moulded by Nature into a deep, brown humus, clean and fragrant--in the woods,
where the sunlight filters green and golden through interlacing branches, and where pure
moisture of distilling rains and melting snows is held in treasury by never-failing banks
of moss--under the verdurous flood of the forest, like sea-weeds under the ocean waves,
these three little creeping vines put forth their hands with joy, and spread over rock and
hillock and twisted tree-root and mouldering log, in cloaks and scarves and wreaths of
tiny evergreen, glossy leaves.
One of them is adorned with white pearls sprinkled lightly over its robe of green. This is
Snowberry, and if you eat of it, you will grow wise in the wisdom of flowers. You will
know where to find the yellow violet, and the wake-robin, and the pink lady-slipper, and
the scarlet sage, and the fringed gentian. You will understand how the buds trust
themselves to the spring in their unfolding, and how the blossoms trust themselves to the
winter in their withering, and how the busy bands of Nature are ever weaving the
beautiful garment of life out of the strands of death, and nothing is lost that yields itself to
her quiet handling.
Another of the vines of the forest is called Partridge-berry. Rubies are hidden among its
foliage, and if you eat of this fruit, you will grow wise in the wisdom of birds. You will
know where the oven-bird secretes her nest, and where the wood-cock dances in the air at
night; the drumming-log of the ruffed grouse will be easy to find, and you will see the
dark lodges of the evergreen thickets inhabited by hundreds of warblers. There will be no
dead silence for you in the forest, any longer, but you will hear sweet and delicate voices
on every side, voices that you know and love; you will catch the key-note of the silver
flute of the woodthrush, and the silver harp of the veery, and the silver bells of the
hermit; and something in your heart will answer to them all. In the frosty stillness of
October nights you will see the airy tribes flitting across the moon, following the secret
call that guides them southward. In the calm brightness of winter sunshine, filling
sheltered copses with warmth and cheer, you will watch the lingering blue-birds and
robins and song-sparrows playing at summer, while the chickadees and the juncos and the
cross-bills make merry in the windswept fields. In the lucent mornings of April you will
hear your old friends coming home to you, Phoebe, and Oriole, and Yellow-Throat, and
Red-Wing, and Tanager, and Cat-Bird. When they call to you and greet you, you will
understand that Nature knows a secret for which man has never found a word--the secret
that tells itself in song.
 
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