FLOWERS (Pasque)

South Dakota's State Flower

"That bold bit of life at the edge of the snows" is how South Dakota poet laureate Badger Clark described the state flower in his 1939 poem Pasque Flower.

The pasque flower is a wildflower that reaches eight to 12 inches in height. Each stem has one cup-shaped flower with five to eight petals that range in color from dark lavender to almost white. Silky hairs cover not only the leaves but also the stems and buds. As one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, it is a reminder of life's springing anew from a wintry death.

Pasque refers to Easter and Passover, and it is around that time of year that the plant blooms. On the prairies and plains of South Dakota, pasque flowers typically bloom in late April and early May. In the Black Hills the wildflower may flower well into May and June. In most cases, by June the flowers and fruits (mature seed pods) are long gone and by the end of July even the leaves are gone - dormant until the following year.

The little lavender flower earned a place in the hearts of American Indians and pioneers before it earned a place in the state's law books.

In a piece of folk-lore written in the Dakota language contained in the North Dakota publication Native Life, a pasque flower speaks as a grandparent addressing grandchildren. The pasque flower tells the grandchildren that she has come out first of all the flower people to show that spring is here and that the buffalo will increase. Then, when all the other flowers, birds, and animals have come out, it is time for her to die. By this example, she shows the grandchildren that they must become old and gray, and pass on to the next land that has been prepared for them by their ancestors. The pasque flower will return again in early springtime, speaking her message to generation after generation.

The Lakota name for the pasque flower is "hoki eekpa," meaning "child's navel." The wildflower has many other names as well, including windflower, prairie crocus, meadow anemone, May flower and Easter flower.

According to information from the South Dakota State Historical Society - State Archives, Lawrence Riggs, a teacher at Peoria School in Hughes County, asked the state legislature that the pasque flower and the motto "I Lead" be adopted as the state floral emblem. In his letter dated February 4, 1903, he also requested that the lesson, "Be first in Love and Peace and Faith in Immortality" be added. and that the flower and motto be given an honored place in the state seal and flag.

The South Dakota Educational Association, which represents teachers, had previously passed a resolution urging the legislature to adopt a floral emblem of the anemone or the pasque flower and the motto, "I Lead."

A bill signed into law on March 5, 1903,by Gov. Charles N. Harreid approved the pasque flower, along with the embllem, "I Lead," as the floral emblem of South Dakota. South Dakota is the only state to have incorporated a motto with its state flower.

 Information provided by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation www.sdhsf.org.


Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News