by Nelson Holmes
HUERFANO- It’s easy to overlook things of beauty when they’re underfoot. People swoon over eagles and gasp when confronted with the grandeur of redwoods. So often, those who consider themselves green and ecologically correct, hop in vehicles and trek great distances to bask in nature’s beauty; all the while completely oblivious to the unheralded, ephemeral, and under appreciated wonders that burgeon underneath their noses. I hope to rectify this sad state of affairs by introducing you to a blossom of simple and singular beauty.
Those of you who live in the population challenged corners of the county, in the places where the yucca and the pinon grow, may have noticed what looks like wrapping tissue snared in the undergrowth. Further investigation will reveal a delicate white bloom composed of four heart-shaped petals; this is the Moon Rose. The tongue twisting Oenothera cespitosa is the unromantic name scientists give to this hardy little plant which blooms May through August. During the warm, bright hours of the day the flowers of this member of the Primrose family are kept tightly closed. As the day fades into night, and the riotous competition for pollinators lessens some, the bright white Moon Rose opens to expose its reproductive structures to the moths which serve as its primary agents of pollination. Those nights when the moon is full, and the early morning just before dawn, are the best times to appreciate these flowers. With the right type of eyes, and a dense display of moonflower, and it can seem as if the star strewn sky has meshed with another galaxy, newly fallen to the ground. If, after relishing your reward of simple beauty you decide to pay closer attention to the overlooked, you may find another Moon Rose with smaller flowers and leaves more deeply cut and lobed; this is Oenothera coronopifolia. As the blossoms age and fade you’ll notice that they flush with pink and purple, a last reverberating note before the discreet transition from flower to fruit and seed.
It’s understandable that our human curiosity is drawn to the biggest, fastest and most colorful. And we often find that to pause and take note of our environment is a luxury we can afford only at the sacrifice of schedules and time allotted to other pursuits. Should the opportunity present itself, and one of these small living wonders manages to register on your mental radar, treat yourself. Stop, for just a second, and revel in this little glimpse of the sublime right under your nose.