Wooing with Wood Violets Week 7

Every morning I walk my son down our long driveway to catch the bus at 6:50 a.m. This is my favorite part of the day, once outside I feel fully awake and each morning I have the chance to notice the change in the seasons and observe the abundance of wildlife in this area. It seems as if spring has appeared overnight, on Monday we heard the raucous chorus of frog song and the first calls of the Killdeer. (charadrius vociferus) Every spring we are greeted with a pair of Killdeer who feign a broken wing as a means to protect their nest and young.

While mowing the lower field last spring my son found this nest, Killdeer lay their nest in grass and forage on foot, rarely taking flight.


An expanding blanket of wood violets (viola sororia) has carpeted my front yard, thriving under the walnut and apple trees. The modest violet has a long and interesting history, it was cultivated in ancient Greece and was the symbol of Athens. The Greek lyric poet Sappho wrote a poem about weaving garlands of violets in her lovers hair. In the early 1900’s a woman could indiscreetly signal her romantic intentions towards another woman by giving her a bouquet of purple violets as a message of “sapphic” aspirations. The flowers and stems of the violet can be used medicinally, in the past a poultice was used to treat headaches, colds, coughs, and dysentery were treated with an infusion made from the flowers. Surprisingly the edible violet contains more vitamin C than oranges and most vegetables.


I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept
a great deal; she said to me, “This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.”

I said, “Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love

“If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared

“all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck

“myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them

“while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…”

–Translated by Mary Barnard

Violet’s Edible and Medicinal Uses

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