I love this legend. This was the reason why I started bringing in the flower books to the hospital when Dad was so sick. I was trying to remember the story but was falling (very) short. I felt so badly for dad who had gone to so much work to put together all of these treasures so that we could remember what he taught us forever. So now this story to me is more than just a beautiful legend, but a treasured memory of time with my dad.
Blackfoot legend retold by Annora Brown, photos by John Ramsay.
When I was a little girl, Dad used to take me and my sister out looking at the plethora of wildflowers that surrounded us here on the ranch. I never would have imagined that most of them would have disappeared in recent years, and this makes me appreciate the beauty and the bounty we enjoyed back in the day. Dad knew all of the names of all of the flowers, and he usually knew a little story to go along with them too. It wasn’t until I was much older that I appreciated how much work he put into his wildflower knowledge. Even if he’d known all of the flowers that surrounded him growing up in northern Ontario (and i think he did know most of them), he still had to learn all of Alberta’s wildflowers. This kind of became his thing, and after years of showing the flowers to me and my sister, he took friends on walks in Kananaskis, learned to photograph the flowers with an amazing talent, and later on took his grandkids on flower walks – each kid with the same wildflower book we had as kids, with spots in the book to write where each flower was spotted.
Dad put together a wildflower book for us, complete with his own photographs and the stories that he wanted us to know that go along with them. I remember when Dad was in the hospital, near the end, and I’d either take in old photo albums, or these flower books and go through them with him, sharing memories or often him just listening to me read. I had to put them away after he died because it was so painful – but I rediscovered them and thought it would be fun to share!
My dad used to take a group of his friends from church out on an annual wildflower walk in Kananaskis. He was an expert in knowing the names and legends of the local wildflowers. The group organized a walk today in his memory. It was beautiful and a wonderful way to honor him.
Yellow lady slipper
My favorite, the wood lily
The boys. My dad used to love teaching them about flowers and photography.
One of the ladies came to me and asked if I knew the name of a certain flower they were looking at. I didn’t but I was so tempted to answer fireweed. It made me laugh and cry inside at the same time. When dad would take me out looking at flowers and we would come across one that he didn’t know the name of, we would both shrug and say fireweed.
It was a wonderful happiness moment to remember and honor my dad this morning.