ORRIN MORRIS: Visit to outcropping can be good for the soul

Polygala curtissii

POLYGALA Polygala curtissii

Life has been, is and will be filled with many uncertainties, disasters and illnesses. Some are the results of our bad choices, others are the consequences of bad choices made by others, and others are the result of the vagaries of life.

Too often the turmoil of our surroundings dictate our spiritual health. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Thou (God) wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" Is. 26:3 KJV. The Apostle Paul wrote of this inner calm in Philippians 4:7, "and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

These men wrote of this inner calm in the most unlikely circumstances. Isaiah wrote of "perfect peace" when the Hebrew people were being defeated by Assyrians and Babylonians. Paul wrote of the "peace of God" while a prisoner in Rome.

A visit to one of the nearby granite outcrops can be good medicine for the soul. To some, the exposed stone is an eye sore because (as they say) it is useless space. To others of us, the plants that occupy such space teach us two things: 1) it is possible to survive amid harsh surroundings, and 2) God often provides beauty in the most unexpected circumstances.


Polygala curtissii

Polygala, in the milkwort family, may be called rock outcrop milkwort or Curtiss' milkwort. This is an annual that reseeds itself and thus is often found in a large patch on thin soil on or around an outcrop.

The plants range from 1 to 2 feet tall and have several branches. The stems and branches are very thin but stiff. The leaves are also thin and alternate up the stem, as pictured.

The small 5/8-inch blooms grow at the end of the branches in racemes, that is, in a rising cluster.

At first glance, the bloom appears to have many petals with a green and yellow center, but closer examination reveals the yellow are buds and immature flowers at the top of the branch. Farther down the branch are mature rose-purple flowers. The aged flowers droop and then on down the branch are little "hooks" that hold the dead flower and seed until they drop.

This variety of milkwort blooms from June through October, so there is plenty of time left to view its beauty. During your visit, watch for the blue of the day flower, the red-orange of the meadow beauty and the yellows of the coreopsis, pineweed, and St. Andrew's cross.

My prayer is that you are becoming a person of steadfast faith, experiencing that inner calm as you walk in God's presence and guidance day after day.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His email is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.