Selections of Common Sense for the 4th

“The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent—of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. ‘Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seed time of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; The wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read it in full grown characters. . . .

“I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment to espouse the doctrine of separation and independance; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of that is mere patchwork, that it can afford no lasting felicity,—that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when, a little more, a little farther, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth. . . .

“A government of our own is our natural right: And when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance. . . .

“The present state of America is truly alarming to every man who is capable of reflexion. Without law, without government, without any other mode of power than what is founded on, and granted by courtesy. Held together by an unexampled concurrence of sentiment, which, is nevertheless subject to change, and which, every secret enemy is endeavouring to dissolve. Our present condition, is, Legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect Independance contending for dependance. The instance is without a precedent; the case never existed before; and who can tell what may be the event? The property of no man is secure in the present unbraced system of things. The mind of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion starts. Nothing is criminal; there is no such thing as treason; wherefore, every one thinks himself at liberty to act as he pleases. . . .

“We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways, by which an independancy may hereafter be effected; and that one of those three, will one day or other, be the fate of America, viz. By the legal voice of the people in Congress; by a military power; or by a mob: It may not always happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked, is not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independancy be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the event of a few months. The Reflexion is awful—and in this point of view, How trifling, how ridiculous, do the little, paltry cavellings, of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world. . . .

” In short, Independance is the only BOND that can tye and keep us together. . . .

“WHEREFORE, instead of gazing at each other with suspicious or doubtful curiosity, let each of us, hold out to his neighbour the hearty hand of friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of oblivion, shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissention. Let the names of Whig and Tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen, an open and resolute friend, and a virtuous supporter of the RIGHTS of MANKIND and of the FREE AND INDEPENDANT STATES OF AMERICA.”

~Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776

Wildflower Wednesday: Spiderwort

Summer is such a fun time to walk meadows and woods, listening to birds, watching butterflies and dragonflies, and spying out wildflowers. I have scads of photos of Michigan wildflowers, many of which I’ve identified, some of which are still a bit of a mystery. I thought perhaps that some of you nature lovers out there might enjoy a regular feature on wildflowers during the warm months. Thus I bring you the inaugural post in the Wildflower Wednesday series. Some of them will be common, others may be rare, all will include a bit of interesting information, like basic facts, uses, and lore.

So without further ado, I bring you the Spiderwort.


Common Name: Spiderwort

Scientific Name: Tradescantia

Habitat & Range: meadows & fields in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula

Bloom Time: spring & summer, one to three blooms opening at a time in each cluster of up to 10 flowers

About: There are about 70 species of Tradescantia, many of which have interesting common names (Scurvy Weed, Moses in the Cradle, Wandering Jew, etc.). The name Spiderwort may come from the sort of spidery look that a clump of these plants have, with their long skinny leaves resembling a spider’s legs, or perhaps the stringy sap that looks a bit like a spiderweb if the leaf is torn apart.

Many plants have the suffix “wort” attached to them. This is a Middle English word that was often used in naming plants. Generally the first part of the name would indicate the area of the body that could be healed using the plant (as in Bloodwort, Bruisewort, and Woundwort–which is also a fine name for evil rabbit overlords) or it would indicate something about the shape of the plant. Often the only reason it seems people used a plant to treat a particular ailment is because it looked like a certain part of the body (Lungwort, for example). If it also happened to be medically efficacious, that was a bonus. For a nice long list of “wort” plants, click here.

Spiderwort comes in a nice array of purple shades, from lavender to nearly blue. Occasionally you see a pink or white form. They clump nicely, which makes them a useful garden plant in partial shade. These perennials are very easy to care for (really, you don’t have to do anything to encourage them–one of many lovely things about using native plants in your gardening).

Reference: Wildflowers of Michigan by Stan Tekiela; Adventure Publications, 2000

Always a Metaphoric Battle to Wage

In my house, I must daily keep vigilant against pernicious assailants bent on disruption and destruction. These assailants take different forms and attack from various angles, so even the slightest relaxation of awareness on my part will inevitably result in atrophy and, left unchecked long enough, catastrophe.

I’m talking, of course, about fur and ants.

Fur and ants are, respectively, zombies and alien robots. One attacks so slowly and dumbly you don’t even realize it is upon you until it’s too late; the moment you recognize one clump of fur is the moment you realize that you are surrounded. The other attacks suddenly, with disconcerting, otherworldly speed should you fail to get that one errant tomato seed into the trash or your idiot cat (one of two moronic creatures producing zombies in your house) insists on leaving food in her bowl so she can’t see the bottom of it.

An effective weapon against both fur zombies and alien ant robots is a powerful vacuum, and I wield mine with stone-cold heartlessness. Preventative measures like brushes and traps help, but you cannot rely on them to keep you safe from invasion. At best, they are like an overwrought and underequipped border patrol, attempting to do their job but ever aware of its ultimate futility.

When it comes down to it, all you can do is buckle down, man the guns, and wait it out until the enemy is spent–or you’re defeated.