A few days ago, my Mom and I were hiking and decided to take an old logging road back to the house. As we headed down a steep and rocky grade, a glint of purple caught my eye. In spring or summer I might have missed it, but now, in the somber autumn woods, it stood out like a gemstone. I bent down and to my surprise, discovered not an amethyst but a bird’s foot violet. Bird’s foot violets are common in Missouri, but not in November. These delicate beauties cover rocky slopes in the springtime, joining forces with spring beauty and sarvis as the first hint of color in our Ozark woods, so seeing one this day was something quite remarkable.
“Have you ever seen anything so amazing?” I asked Mom.
“Yes,” she replied, “and so have you.” Mom went on to tell me the story of another autumn day, when I was three years old. On that blue-sky October day, Mom had taken me on a walk to look for fall treasures. We collected acorns and fallen leaves, identified asters and goldenrod, and even found a blue jay feather to put in our scrapbook at home. Then, on a similarly rocky path, we found a bird’s foot violet.
“Would you look at that,” Mom said, “A spring flower blooming in the fall.”
“Nomina! Nomina!” I exclaimed.
Using the translation skills only a mother has, Mom asked, “Do you mean phenomenon?”
I smiled and nodded my head, “Nomina.”
Now, forty years later, I wonder what message the Universe is sending me through the bird’s foot violet. Perhaps it means I’ve come full-circle and have arrived at a place where I can experience Nature as I did when I was a child: Before my life was made of schedules, goals, pressure to “succeed.” The violet says, “Slow down, be authentic, bloom when you feel like it, regardless of the season.”
I take a photo of the flower so I will remember what who I am – who the Universe has called me to be. I reach down to caress the velvety petals and say a prayer of thanks.
“Nomina,” I whisper, “Nomina.”