A re-telling of a story I read in Colburn and Hein’s Bloomin’ Tales: Legends of Seven Favorite Texas Wildflowers:
A long time ago, the prairie burned. People ran from their homes and took shelter in a stone fort, where the flames licked and rolled against the walls, but where the people were safe until the fire exhausted itself. When they emerged from their stone shelter, ashes covered the earth as far as they could see.
“Go collect all the bluejay feathers from the abandoned nest in the fort,” someone told the children. “We will plant them as we walk back to our homes.” (The children were hungry, tired, and frightened, as you might imagine. They needed something to do. Seeds were far too precious at that point to entrust to their grubby little hands.)
The children stuck the feathers into the earth as they walked. Just as they emptied their pockets, it rained. The blackened soil steamed, people laughed, and everyone opened their mouths to the sky to catch a drink. Soot ran in black rivulets from their faces. And when they looked around again, bright blue flower spikes blanketed the prairie.
See? Even here and now, in the cracks of this suburban sidewalk, you spring up, green hands open to catch the rain.
Anna Walther lives in Austin, Texas, where she practices place-based paganism, by honoring ancestors, observing the movements of the sun and the moon, collecting local stories, visiting trees, creeks and springs, and learning about the plants, animals, and minerals with which she shares her home. Anna is a student nurse, and she attends First Unitarian Universalist Church with her husband and children.