Wednesday, January 6, 2016

But It Looks So Pretty in the Picture!

One of the banes of our existence on the farm in Clifton were thistles.  We hated few things more.  I never stepped on any but they pained me nonetheless.

Few things are less romantic than hearing your dad say, "Girls, grab a shovel; it's thistle-killin time!"  (He didn't have to mention it if there happened to be a random thistle here or there in the lawn or the yard. We just knew instinctively to go dig those up.  Chances were pretty high he'd already cleared up most of them, anyway.)  Kosha weeds, voles, rattlesnakes, scorpions, hailstorms, thistles...all four-letter words and all spoken of in the same tone of voice on the farm.

We would grab our shovels and head out to the pastures, walking like human horizontal stripes in a search party which, in fact, we were.  We walked about 8-10 feet apart, just far enough to be able to spot everything between and swing a step or two to dig it out hopefully to include the roots.  They didn't get too high but were fairly prolific.  You dug them out, flipped over the shovel and lay the plant upside down, root to the sun, so hopefully it would die-die. My suspicions are that the roots just laughed at us and shot out another tentacle, but that didn't stop us from trying.

I once wrote my parents a poem about thistles, but it would take me hours to find.

This morning I discovered that Scotland is partial to thistles.  In fact, they revere them much as Utah does Seagulls. There is even a chivalrous honor called "Order of the Thistle".  Apparently, centuries ago the notorious Vikings were trying to sneak up on the sleeping Scots and had to go barefoot due to the terrain.  The Scots may have been able to sleep due to the fact they had inside intelligence, i.e. the hills were alive with thistles which caused the sounds of musical Viking screams as they traversed thistle-covered mountain sides.  Not a bad ploy.

Image result for scottish thistles


  1. Going through Mother's stuff we found several beautiful little plates and a cup and saucer with thistles on them. Mother and Dad brought them home from Scotland and I know Dad was very fond of them - strange since he certainly dealt with thistles in Clifton too. The little plates have gone to live in Texas with my daughter.

  2. Maybe thistles on cups and saucers are like thistles in photos, much less noxious and threatening. I didn't realize your parents went to Scotland.