Monday, September 9, 2013

hearts a-bustin

The common name of this shrub refers to the plant's seed pods which are now ripe and a-bustin'. Once the seeds have matured, the red capsules burst, scattering the orange seeds up to 15 feet. Bam!

Known in the Smoky Mountains by the folk name hearts a-bustin', Euonymus americanus is now doing just that: bustin'. A quick shower this week only added to the plant's apparent pathos.

If you know anything about the lives of the mountaineers who lived in the hollows of the Great Smokies before the coming of the national park, you know their hearts were often broken, mostly by the early deaths of loved ones. Their lives were hard, insular; their cemeteries are filled with tombstones of people who died much too young. Mourning was a routine facet of their lives. They wore black. They grieved. They buried their dead. Finding a photograph of one of them smiling is impossible. 

But who hasn't felt such heartbreak? Such a-bustin'?

I know of their hardships. The cemeteries at the foot of Mt. LeConte are filled with my ancestors. One, near the Rolling Fork Motor Nature Trail, is actually named the Bales Cemetery. I had an uncle named Maferd I never met who is buried there. He died the same day he was born: November 22, 1923. 

Short life, but at least his hardship was brief. Broke his parents hearts. Homer and Pearl. Their first child.  But they were not alone.

You can bet that any child who died in September, their graves would have been decorated with bouquets of heart a-bustin'.

Yes, hearts a-bustin'.

- photo taken about twelve feet from my front porch.


Patricia Lichen said...

Hey, what a terrific blog! Interesting (and often funny!) posts, great photos--and you wrote a book about the search for ivory-billed woodpeckers too? It's about time I found this site.

Stephen Lyn Bales said...

Well now Patricia.

So pleasant to hear from you. It's late: 12:36. I'm ill and having trouble sleeping, so I booted up my computer and found your two kind comments.

You've made my day, and my day is only 36 minutes old.

Maybe now I'll sleep.