(I know Prince’s untimely death has hugged the news in the past several weeks and many people wrote articles with “purple” theme, but this post has nothing to do with Prince.)
There are things in this world that are unwanted.
When I went out for my morning run today, I came near a pond and a large mother goose was standing at the middle of the road. Nearby is her family. The protective mother goose stared and hissed at me. I was an unwanted guest.
I went slowly and timidly, as far as I can on the other side of the road, so not to agitate the goose further. After I passed them, they quietly slipped into the water and swam away.
Not long thereafter, another bird, an aggressive red-winged blackbird hovered wildly above me. It made repeated dives on my head while chirping loudly. I think she has a nest nearby, and she’s telling me to go away. Definitely I was unwelcome there.
I probably would do that too, if an intruder whose intention I am not sure, would go near my family.
But there are other things that are unwanted and unwelcome, which we try to get rid of. Like weeds and thistles from our lawn and garden.
Back to this morning run, after my confrontation with the goose and the blackbird, I went out to the lonely gravel road to continue on my run, where I have not been for a while. There I noticed this purple thistle at the side of the road.
I did not know that this weed, can grow this tall, as the moment we see it in our garden, we pull them out immediately. I did not know as well that it can produce beautiful purple flowers. Thorny yet exquisite.
This weed is known as the milk thistle (scientific name: Sylibum marianum). It was named such due to the milky sap that the plant produce when cut. It is native to the Mediterranean, but is now found throughout the world.
It is not just in the manicured lawns and gardens that it is unwanted. Even in prairies and pasture land where cattle roam and graze, farmers try to eradicate them, as they are considered noxious weed. The reason is it can be toxic to cattle, sheep and other livestocks, if they eat them.
So most of the time, this purple weed is left to grow only on the side of lonesome roads, or in wild, forsaken places. An outcast, if you will.
But I will argue that despite being unwanted by most of the world, it survives. Defiantly existing to show its beauty for anyone who would stop and appreciate. It has spiny-edged leaves, prickly stems, thorny crowns, yet colorful blooms.
My little research also tells me that this thistle even though it is toxic to cattle and other ruminants, it is perfectly edible and safe to humans, provided we don’t eat the thorns. There’s even studies to suggest that it has medicinal property, like treatment for liver diseases, and also been looked at to treat cancer.
An unwanted and lowly prickly thistle. Yet there’s beauty and purpose for its existence. Just like many other things in our lives.
I know you have an annoying classmate or officemate that you wish would migrate to the moon. Or you have unwanted daily tasks that you wish you don’t have to deal with. Or you experience thorn-on-the-side everyday challenges that you hope to live without. And the list of “unwanted” things go on and on.
Yet they exist for a reason. We just have to look a little closer.
(*photos taken with an iPhone)