Thursday, February 26, 2009
I went out seeking the snowdrops today. Somewhere in the woods between the house and the road here is an old patch of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis). Not really woods, just an un-landscaped slope that was woods long ago, then farmed, and then allowed to do whatever it wanted and it wanted to hang on to this secret patch of snowdrops. Hidden in plain sight.
Every year I go to this spot, clambering over a large fallen tree, and then another smaller fallen tree, and very year I think there are none. The ground is covered with the soggy fallen leaves of autumns past and a few tawdry bits of old snow. What I need to do is stand still. Stay in one spot and let my eyes comb the ground as if it were my dog’s fur. And expect nothing. And slowly – but also suddenly – a snowdrop will appear. I will pluck off the brown leaves and see dozens on them. Today most were closed tight; even beneath the leaves they seemed to be protecting their privacy.
I read that snowdrops have an active substance called Galanthamine that can be helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Since at least once every day I have a Panic-stricken-I’m-losing-my-memory moment, and since like 90% (something like that – I’ve forgotten the exact percentage, naturally) of the population I am more frightened of getting Alzheimer’s than cancer, this item called out to me from its secret place, from its morass of fallen leaves. It makes a certain sense that a plant that would allay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s would be a plant that keeps its own counsel, and is a harbinger of spring, a flower that blooms when there is still snow on the ground. If you have the patience to see it.