Fireweed


One might wonder why there is a photograph of fireweed on a blog entitled ‘Zinnia Awakens’ when  fireweed looks nothing like the Mexican zinnia flowers.

I will explain the fireweed aspect today and save the name Zinnia for another tale.

Fireweed has a special place in my heart. It is a symbol of hope and rebirth. 

Fireweed stretches as tall as it can waving its purply pink flowers at the sun. You may glimpse patches of it on the freeway edge or on the burn site of a recent forest fire. It is often the first splash of colour on these black scars. As the season wears on, the flowers throw up their beautiful smoky airborne seedlings, reminiscent of the fire that came before.

Eventually a forest will grow up around the fireweed and quench the fireweed’s source of sunlight. The fireweed will disappear. But years later, another fire might come to the area or somehow the trees will be removed and the fireweed’s seeds, long nestled in the earth, will begin again to reach for the sun. 

Such hope and resilience can be a lesson to us. It recalls the poppies in Flanders Fields gently surfacing and bringing their bright reds to the sites of horrific destruction. 

Think of the trumpet flowers in Linda Hogan’s description of the bomb sites of Hiroshima:

Seed. There are so many beginnings. In Japan, I recall, there were wildflowers that grew in the far, cool regions of mountains. The bricks of Hiroshima, down below, were formed of clay from these mountains, and so the walls of the shops held dormant trumpet flower seeds. But after one group of humans killed another with the explosive power of life’s smallest elements split wide apart, the mountain flowers began to grow. Out of the crumbled, burned buildings they sprouted. Out of destruction and bomb heat and the falling of walls, the seeds opened and grew. What a horrible beauty, the world going on its own way, growing without us. But perhaps this, too, speaks of survival, of hope beyond our time. 

– Linda Hogan, Dwellings. A Spiritual History of the Living World 

Imagine, just when we might feel lost and give up hope, bursts of colour appear through the darkness, reach up, and call to the sun insistent that they flourish for another moment.


Reaching for the sun at Harrison Hot Springs.

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