Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Stepmother's Flower

After I posted my grandmother’s saft recipe, a friend and fellow gardener asked if I could translate a children’s book about flowers for her. I’m having such a good time with it! The book is called “Barnas flora: 21 blomsterfortellinger for barn.” It’s a book of folk tales about 21 different wildflowers – some of the wildflowers are familiar to me, some aren’t.

Some of the stories provide vivid imagery about the flower—creative ways to remember common names of flowers. The daisy is called prestekrage – priest’s ruff/collar. The story continues to say that some people call the flower “monks’s hair” because of the way monks shave their heads – bald on the top and fringes around the edge!

The story I keep coming back to is the story about the viola – the Stepmother’s flower. The story says: In many old folktales, there is a wicked stepmother. If you see a stepmother’s flower, you can see the resemblance between the wicked stepmother and her daughters. They sit round a fat bowl of porridge with a nice lump of butter in the middle. The stepmother sits at the bottom. She is big and wide and has the best place. In her eagerness to get the most porridge, she spilled some on her dress. On either side of her sit her two true daughters. They are a little smaller, but they have a good place around the porridge, too. They have spilled milk in front of their places. Opposite the stepmother sit the two skinny stepdaughters. They have only “this much” space at the porridge bowl. They haven’t received any butter or milk to spill on themselves. They have good manners and receive only a little drop to satisfy their hungry stomachs.

I don’t think I’ll look at a viola/violet in the same way ever again!

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