What RingsTrue

The bluebells are here! The bluebells are here!

Lance-leaf Bluebell, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

I always get this sense of nature’s endearing beauty and reassurance when the bluebells emerge in spring after the snow.

The month of May has moistened the earth. The sun has coaxed the bulbs to sprout out of the dark recesses of the soil. Up from the ground, the bluebells sway in the breeze. In the forest, the bells vibrate. On the path, they lower their shy, cascading glance. Clusters everywhere—blue as the sky.

Bluebell Clusters, Colorado Foothills

In the foothills near my home, I recently found fountains of bluebells along a hiking path. Mertensia lanceolata, commonly called prairie bluebells, flourish at the lower elevations in the foothills all the way up to the alpine regions of the high-rising Rockies. The flowers begin as pinkish-purplish buds and transform into blue or violet petals as they open. The change in color alerts the bees and other insects when the flower is ripe for pollination.

Pink bluebell buds emerge to blue

Throughout the ages, poets, painters, musicians, and storytellers have been intrigued, if not beguiled, by this flower’s blue and violet-blue petals. Folklore, myth, and legend abound in the mystique of this tiny jewel. Like the fairy tales of long ago, the lore of bluebells can be bright or dark, full of fancy or full of foreboding.

One mythical tale promises a person will speak the truth when a garland of bluebells is worn around the neck. Another tale promises winning the heart of one’s own true love by simply turning a bluebell inside out without tearing the petals. Still another tale warns not to stray into a field of bluebells for fear of summoning malicious sprites that respond to the ring of bells.

Famous poets celebrate the bluebell’s beauty. Keats called bluebells the sapphire queen.  Tennyson likened bluebells to “the blue sky, breaking up through the earth.”

Flower experts give symbolic meanings of constancy, humility, gratitude, and everlasting love to bluebells.

In the United Kingdom, bluebells are venerated and protected by law.

United Kingdom Bluebells courtesy of Creative Commons, Cameraman

What struck me as I hiked into the bluebells in the foothills outside of Denver was the sheer intensity of blueness. I wanted to relearn the essence of color. Those flowers had no capacity to absorb that beautiful blue hue they were giving off. They reflected that gorgeous color because they could not absorb it. We humans perceive and receive color (wavelengths of light) from what is not absorbed. Blue and violet are the shortest wavelengths in the visible spectrum with the greatest energy. The intriguing blues and blue-violets scatter more than the other colors and have a mystery all their own. Why is it all so fascinating?

For me, what rings true about this bell-shaped blue and violet flower is the generosity of creation. Wonder—Beauty—Holy. It’s all there, right along the path.

Thanks for stopping by.