Monday, November 26, 2012

The Rattlesnake Creek

Wild Violets
The Rattlesnake Creek about two miles from Isaac Werner's homestead takes its name from the curving, serpentine course of the creek bed, although I'm making no promises about whether there are snakes along its banks.  In Isaac's time, homesteaders valued the prairie grass that grew in what they called the Rattlesnake Valley.  A Prattsburg community subscriber to the County Capital newspaper praised the benefits of owning land along the Rattlesnake, predicting that in the future others would covet that land.  He urged discouraged settlers to stay where they were, on their farms along the Rattlesnake, without being tempted to leave for Colorado or Washington during the hard times.
But this post is not about the Rattlesnake Creek in Isaac's times.  It is the story of a little girl whose mother said to her one day, "Let's go have a picnic at the Creek."  Off they went, their picnic being a pint of ice cream back in the days when ice cream was sold in a small rectangular box.  The mother had brought the ice cream, a sharp knife to cut the box in half, and two spoons.  It was a wonderful picnic.  However, given the warm day and the tendency for ice cream to melt, their picnic was consumed rather quickly and they were left to find other entertainment along the creek bank.
"Come see what I have found," the mother called to the little girl.  They carefully bent over a tiny plant nearly hidden among the larger foliage.  Its rich green leaves were shaped like small Valentines, and a delicate purple flower danced on its stem.  Looking around, the mother and daughter saw more of the plants.  "They're wild violets," the mother explained.  "Let's take some home to plant in our yard."
The spoons brought to eat the ice cream became little shovels, and a pair of violets were selected, one for each half of the ice cream carton.  Mother and daughter returned to their farm home with their beautiful flowers.  Father did not appreciate their treasures as they had expected.  "If you plant those here they will take over the lawn," he complained.  Mother planted them anyway.
Of course, the little girl was me, and the violets did spread.  After my father's death the house stood empty, except for a couple of tenants who seemed to pay little attention to maintaining the yard.  When my husband and I began to restore the house, mowing the weed covered yard and watering in hopes of bringing the Bermuda grass underneath back to life, I wasn't thinking much about the little violets.  It seemed unlikely that any would have survived the neglected years without any watering except by Mother Nature.
This summer we decided to attempt growing Bermuda on the north side of the house, an area that had never had much of a lawn.  As I was hoeing weeds in preparation to scatter Bermuda seed, guess what I found.  You know, of course.  A few of the wild violets had somehow survived after all the years of neglect.  Just as my mother and I once had done, I carefully dug them and moved them to a protected place where they wouldn't be bothered by mower blades.
I think the wild violets will be happy where I put them, and my father was probably right.  They are sure to spread into the lawn, but I don't care.  I love those little survivors and the memory of my picnic with Mother beside the Rattlesnake Creek.  


Anonymous said...

How neat! My grandmama always had wild violets growing on the north side of her house. We bought a house just down the street from her old house last summer. It had been a foreclosure home and no one had lived in it for years. The drought had killed just about every tree on the property but when I was mowing I found wild violets growing along the north side of the house and a shed. Somehow they survived the drought. It was like a little gift from her.

Thank you for your picture. This is the first time I have seen these flowers anywhere but at my grandmama's house and didn't really know what they were.

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Thank you for sharing the wonderful story about your grandmother and your own discovery of a living memory. My grandmother had Johnny-jump-ups growing along her garden path, and I want to plant some of those to think of her each time I see them.

The Blog Fodder said...

A wonderful story. Thank you.