Hilary - That Cheerful Welsh PoppyMonday, May 28, 2007
The Welsh poppy (Meconopsis cambrica) is a perennial plant of the family Papaveraceae. Its habitat is damp shady places on rocky ground, and it is native to south-western England, Wales, Ireland and Western Europe. In its most western locations, it is increasingly found on more open ground with less cover.
It has pinnately divided leaves. The flower is distinctively yellow or orange with four petals, and hairy green sepals that fall off quickly after the flower opens. It spreads easily from the numerous small black seeds produced in the summer. It is especially well adapted to colonising gaps and crevices in rocks and stones. This habit has enabled it to colonise the urban emvironment, growing between paving slabs and at the edges of walls.
The above little essay from Wikipedia deftly hides the fact that the Welsh poppy is a weed. When we arrived at our present home in 1986 Rosemary pulled this poppy wherever she saw it growing, in spite of the fact that Meconopsis cambrica previously known as Papaver cambrica ) is one weed that cheerfully lives and lets live. Rosemary's attempts at eradication failed somewhat as the cheerful little flower is back. Rosemary is far more forgiving about yellow and orange flowers now. At one time, as soon as our large clumps of Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag iris) showed hints of yellow buds, Rosemary snipped them off. Perhaps she has less time now or she has come to accept that yellow isn't all that bad.
I have always valued the function of epicene names. These are names that don't readily reveal the person'sex. It is up to the person to define and make the name their own. And this is what my daughter Hilary has done, and she has done it well indeed.
Hilarius or Hilary (ca. 300 – 367) was bishop of Poitiers and I have no idea if the patron saint that protects us from snake bites was hilarious or cheerful in any way. His life was changed when he read the scriptures verse where God tells Moses "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14), St. Hilary said, "I was frankly amazed at such a clear definition of God, which expressed the incomprehensible knowledge of the divine nature in words most suited to human intelligence."
Hilary is cheerful and most steadfast as to who she is. I distinctly remember her telling me some years past when I criticized her for some action, "I am who I am and if you don't like it well then...." Just like those Welsh poppies, that are so much like her, she asserts her presence, and lives and lets live.