“There, now it can put its little roots down into the earth,” Mom said as she moved a wild strawberry runner from a limestone rock to the soil alongside. The red runner had crawled its way for a couple of feet across the rough stone, putting out small plantlets every several inches. The tiny exposed roots didn’t have a chance. So mom gave them one.
We had just eaten lunch on a rocky outcrop above a lush meadow in the backcountry of Yellowstone. Few people know of the meadow: no trail leads that way; no astounding features provide a draw. The meadow is magic, wide and fertile, always with fresh elk and bear sign. If the breeze is up, the grass gracefully sways in ever-changing patterns. The atmosphere can reshape your way of being with the world.
So my mother and I spent quite some time lifting strawberry runners up from sterile stone to put them down onto fertile earth, increasing the plants opportunity to spread. Which was unnecessary and admittedly perhaps even a bit silly – but also filled with joy. A simple act of embracing new life, and putting roots onto earth. Together, as mother and daughter.
Today, I thought of that afternoon when I came across a juniper bush that hung lifeless on the stump of a fallen tree. Wind had pulled the tree down, and as it tumbled, the tree pulled the bush up. I wanted to push the juniper’s dangling roots back into the soil, to give it life again. Yet, the leaves had gone brown, and it was too late for that plant to sink its roots back into the earth.
And the image of my mother gently moving strawberry rootlets onto the ground came to mind. I pulled up every sound, scent, and feel of that slow, sweet afternoon in the meadow. Holding the memory, embracing all that it meant.