Walkway violets

It’s the last week of classes at Keene State; it’s also the last week of classes for my current crop of online classes at Southern New Hampshire University. That means I’m up to my eyeballs in grading: SNHU grades are due on Monday, a new set of online classes (both of which I’ve never taught before) are set to go live then, and I’m still digging out from under a backlog of papers from this semester-from-hell. This weekend will be “crunchy,” but next weekend will be less so; the next week I’ll be free…for a while. Then Summer term will begin, and I’ll start the whole circus all over again.

In the meantime, I haven’t had much time for walking: I’ve spent most of the past few days in my office here at school conferencing with students. But this morning when I let the dog out, I saw a cheering sign: violets!

As you’ve presumably noticed, I’m a wildflower fanatic, so I’ll typically tell you that all wildflowers are my favorite, or that I particularly love whatever posie I happen to be considering at the moment. But I really, really like violets. They’re common. They grow everywhere. They sometimes, if you let your lawn alone and don’t nuke it with chemicals, sprout spontaneously in yards. They come in violet (as in “You’re violet, Violet!”), white, and yellow, and I love them all…but I particularly like the violet ones, with the whites coming a close second.

And as luck would have it, we have both kinds–violet and white–growing around our porch. Someone probably planted them there, I’m sure, but it certainly wasn’t me. I’d like to think, though, that they appeared spontaneously, just for my benefit. It’s a happy dream, this wish for Viola (not Narcissus) narcissism.

With violets in mind, I wrote the following in, of all places, my Expository Writing class, where we begin each class with 5 minutes of random scribbling:

    What would it be like to be a plant? A violet, for instance, who blooms from under a crevice along a brick-lined walkway. What would it be like to unfurl into greenery, and then into flower, after lying long underground, cramped and solitary. What would the touch of air feel like, the caress of light? Would it be shocking at first, even painful? Would there be trauma and fear, an impulse to go back down underground, into the cold, dark, known earth?

    Ultimately, even violets erupt, unquestioning, pushing with a fragile, leafy power that is greater than either brick or boulder, slow, small, and silent. The force of violets, their green and purple fire, cannot be stemmed or quenched. Squelched or stomped, they will multiply and spread, unseen, lurking in the shadow of the known.

Even when I don’t have time to walk, the force the fuels the flower finds me out.