Profligate Beauty

How dull we are to the common beauty around us! We often think of beauty as something rare, fleeting, or elusive. I think this is wrong. If anything, creation is profligate when it comes to the dispersal of beauty. Beauty is everywhere. It’s all around us. Extravagantly. Excessively.

Bear’s Foot is blooming in Tennessee right now in the second half of July. Smallanthus uvedalius (Yellow Leafcup, or Bear’s Foot) is a tall, course perennial herb, 3-10 foot tall, common in the eastern U.S., and can be found in meadows and along forest edges. It’s often overlooked and disregarded as a weed, but I have some in my backyard and I’ve come to appreciate its sunny yellow blooms and large bear paw leaves. Tough as its name, Bear’s Foot is rough, weedy, and endures all manner of abuses. One year a plant grew and bloomed through a woodpile I had stacked on top of it. And whenever I notice this “weed” it adorns my day. 

Beauty is often like this — rough, common, and persistent. But far too often we don’t even notice. Perhaps we’d smile a little more if we’d open our eyes. If only we’d look.

Leaf of Smallanthus uvedalius
Bumble bee on Bear’s Foot (Smallanthus uvedalius)
Bear’s Foot at forest edge


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