A pair of yellow slippers

Since I'm a lover of nature, whose interest lies largely in painting wildflowers and birds indigenous to New England, it is quite understandable that -- along with just about everyone else -- I can't waitm for the warming sun to rejuvenate the earth's surface and gradually begin the whole process of springtime once more.

When spring comes, my actual floral painting may be postponed a bit longer as I wander about rediscovering the hepatica, the trailing arbutus, trillium, trout-lily. However, for years, I'd searched for a particular favorite of mine, the yellow lady-slipper -- a wilde orchid on the "endangered list" -- but to no avail. It didn't make me feel any better when I learned that a lady who lived just a few miles down the road had an entire hillside of them behind her house, both they yellow and the pink variant, or "moccasin flower."

Quite by chance one day, while puttering along our brook, I happened to glance up toward the darkling edge of the woods and saw what appeared to be a small brightly lit yellow light bulb! I hurried up the embankment to confirm it was indeed a lady-slipper!, just one solitary beauty gently nodding on its rhythmical stem. With great care I dug it up and moved it alongside a low mossy stone wall where it would be more protected and easily seen from the house. After it had passed its prime I worried about it . . . had it been too risky, transplanting this fragile wilding, perhaps at the wrong time? But my fears were put to rest the following spring, when it showed up right on schedule, tall and healthy, bearing not only one but a pair of yellow slippers.

On a sunny morning, kneeling down amid the maidenhair fern, Boston fern, wild ginger, heal-all, gill-over-the-ground, I peered into one of the golden slippers. Two shiny black eyes peered up at me. Startled, I pulled back. The black eyes continued to look up unflinchingly! After a while I recognized the smooth outline of a tiny, exquisite spider. His brilliant yellow coloring so exactly matched the glowing walls of his temporary chambers as to render him practically invisible. I rose and left him to ply his trade.

Glancing back at the dappled sunlight dancing amid the lady-slippers and touching the overhead branches of the evergreens, I wondered: If we had hundreds of yellow blossoms marching up the slope all the way to Morgan's Farm, could we possibly love them any more than our one prized pair?

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