Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If the Lady's Slipper Fits...

We returned to the hidden site of the elusive Yellow Lady's Slipper today, not to be disappointed. She showed her face, and her cousin was likewise more visible than last week--two orchids for the price of a short walk in the woods. What more could a naturalist ask? (Perhaps better focusing? Sorry!)

For those who are keeping tabs, this is Cypripedium calceolus.

And her more abundant relative, the Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata, left. (No, I didn't key it out, so please consider this a "most likely" approximation, the next most likely being a rarer species.)

Are we crazy, venturing abroad in search of the elusive Cypripedium? Let me offer this historical tidbit, at least 100 years old, I've no doubt. Enjoy this excerpt from a poem on the trials of field work by Henry Beers, Ye Laye of Ye Woodpeckore, in which the "Woodpeckore" and the "Pale Student" speak alternately:


O whither goest thou, pale student
Within the wood so fur?
Art on the chokesome cherry bent?
Dost seek the chestnut burr?

Pale Student:

O it is not for the mellow chestnut
That I so far am come,
Nor yet for puckery cherries, but
For Cypripedium.

[nigh on 11 verses omitted]

Full two long hours I've searched about
And 't would in sooth be rum,
If I should now go back without
The Cypripedium.

Farewell! Farewell! But this I tell
To thee, thou pale student,
Ere dews have fell, thou'lt rue it well
That woodward thou didst went:

[3 more omitted]

The wood-peck turned to whet her beak,
The student heard her drum,
As through the wood he went to seek
The Cypripedium.

[2 more skipped]

The mud was on his shoon, and O!
The briar was in his thumb,
His staff was in his hand but no--
No Cypripedium.


Nonsense? I think not! [Will provide the date, and a link to the full poem, as soon as I find it!]

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