MEET ME IN THE MEADOW: Finding God in the Wildflowers
Come and walk through "fields of wonder" in MEET ME IN THE MEADOW, 36 short essays by Deborah Hedstrom-Page about wildflowers.
Beginning with "anemone" and moving through her list of 36 wildflowers alphabetically (including a few "noxious" weeds!), Hedstrom-Page introduces each entry with a short essay. She offers a little lesson in floral anatomy, including the wildflower's coloring, its Latin and common names, plus its medicinal, historic, artistic, or culinary uses. Sketches by artist Kevin Ingram accompany the text.
Some of Hedstrom-Page's descriptions are lovely: "The columbine flower is shaped like the head and neck of a dove, and the spurs of the flower look like a quintet of doves bent down to drink at a fountain." On the pond lily, she writes, "This aquatic wildflower often adds a yellow ruffle to mountain lakes and marshes." Even those who know a wildflower well will see it through her eyes in a new way.
A section in each chapter called "My Wonderings" offers a short devotional thought related to the flower (On the viciously deep-rooted bull thistle, she ruminates, "Worry can get a choke hold on me…"). Occasionally, she overstretches spiritual analogies to make them fit a particular wildflower.
Following the devotional portion is a section, "Your Wanderings," in which she tells the reader when and where to find the wildflower, and what to look for. At the end of each essay is a boxed portion, "Aftereffects," in which the reader is invited to engage in some activity involving the wildflower. There are craft ideas (weaving with split bear grass leaves) and fun things to do with kids (making dangly earrings from bleeding hearts). Some delicious-sounding recipes are offered, from coffee made from chicory root, fireweed tea, to three dishes involving dandelions. There's even a poem and a gardening tip or two. Several lined pages for "reflecting on your growth" end the book.
Like any budding naturalist, Hedstrom-Page soon finds that her love affair with wildflowers turns to a bit of an obsession. It's not enough to know the name of the trillium --- she finds naming one wildflower leads to a desire to know its uses and its habitat. Naming things causes her to buy a field guide, and one field guide leads to another…and another, and another, and soon a whole library. A tripod, camera, and close-up lenses begin a photography series. Her affection for her topic is irresistible.
Hedstrom-Page's love for creation is reflected back in gratitude during her quiet times with her creator: "I imagined him as a glassblower or cabinetmaker carefully designing each flower, drawing from his eternity of beauty, purity, and knowledge --- divine resources beyond my comprehension," she writes. Wildflowers, she observes, provide a glimpse of God.
One of the few missteps in this beautifully designed book is the informational yet intrusive footnoting. It's also a little confusing that the activities involve picking wildflowers, yet a cautionary note at the end of the book advises readers to think before they pick: "Only in the wild do they look their best."
However, this is a delightful book to expand your knowledge of flora, to give to a friend as a gift, or to use with children and grandchildren to open their eyes to the beauty of creation. Even those readers who already love and have a working knowledge of wildflowers will find new information and insights into the wonder of God's handiwork here.
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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