Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's Chicory Season


Image credit Wikipedia.

Much of my running is not actually on trails but rather on the rural roads surrounding my home in Franklin County, PA.  Pehaps the most common wildflower I see is the Common Chicory (Cichorium intybus).

I'm partial to blue flowers anyway, and to see a faint line of blue on the roadside stretching away as far as the eye can see is great.  I'm also a fan of chicory because it grows along roadsides and waste areas, thriving where other plants would perish.  It's definitely one tough plant.

Gotta throw in a poem here that I ran across by John Updike
("Chicory" from Americana and Other Poems. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2001):


Show me a piece of land that God forgot—
a strip between an unused sidewalk, say,
and a bulldozed lot, rich in broken glass—
and there, July on, will be chicory,

its leggy hollow stems staggering skyward,
its leaves rough-hairy and lanceolate,
like pointed shoes too cheap for elves to wear,
its button-blooms the tenderest mauve-blue.

How good of it to risk the roadside fumes,
the oil-soaked heat reflected from asphalt,
and wretched earth dun-colored like cement,
too packed for any other seed to probe.

It sends a deep taproot (delicious, boiled),
is relished by all livestock, lends its leaves
to salads and cooked greens, but will not thrive
in cultivated soil: it must be free.

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