I’m sitting on the porch of my studio on a Saturday afternoon and everything is wonderful. I’ve been carving a linoleum block of Fire Pinks, and I just realized that “pink” refers not to the color of the flower (which is a jubilant red), but to the family to which the flower belongs. Which means that, in her family, Fire Pink is known as Fire. And this realization adds to my happiness, though I can’t exactly determine why. It just does.
When I first came to North Carolina―some twenty-two years ago this summer―I hiked up to Mount Pisgah, a lovely hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway, south of Asheville. I remember still that first Carolina hike, the challenge of climbing up and up to the antenna-crowned peak, scrambling for my breath as I scrambled over boulders. But more than that I remember seeing, for the first time, Fire Pinks, and being completely smitten with them. I remember stopping and admiring them―they were so charming!―before continuing onward. My first mountain wildflower. To this day, when I see them blooming in the shade of the forest, I feel their bright welcome, no longer a new friend, but a treasured one, more dear to me each summer.