These are horsetails. Most people who live in the Pacific Northwest know them and hate them, mostly because there’s absolutely no way you can ever get them out of your garden once they arrive.
I was at a very small park today, Waterworks Park in Renton. It’s meant to educate people on how the earth works to filter water and how very useful storm ponds can be. Today, in the middle of August, there wasn’t much water in any of the ponds. But there were berries, and small flowers, and a blue heron who tolerated my presence with elegant grace, and these horsetails.
It’s said that they are millions of years old. They were supposedly around when T-rex roamed the earth. I don’t know about that. But what I do know is that they are beautiful. They are perfectly whorled, a sort of little spiral staircase of growth that looks prehistoric, architectural, mathematical, alien. They flourish despite our best intentions. Which is probably good, since our best intentions seem to change over time. There was a time we didn’t have outdoor educational parks, or storm ponds. There was a time we thought the whole world was huge and ours and infinite in its resources. There was a time when we believed it all belonged just to us, to use as we chose. There was a time we weren’t as smart as we are now, and probably not as destructive for our intelligence. And these horsetails were there. My guess is, they’ll be here for a long time to come, maybe even longer than us. Who knows?
If we are lucky, and wise, we’ll learn something from them, give something back to this place for what we have been given. Learn to really see just how lovely they – and everything else we forget to cherish – truly is.