"The rarest and most beautiful of the flowering plants I discovered on this first grand excursion [in the Great Lakes region of Canada in 1864] was Calypso borealis (the Hider of the North). I had been fording streams more and more difficult to cross and wading bogs and swamps that seemed more and more extensive and more difficult to force one's way through . . . I began to fear that I would not be able to reach dry ground before dark, and therefore would have to pass the night in the swamp. I was faint and hungry.
"But when the sun was getting low and everything seemed most bewildering and discouraging, I found beautiful Calypso on the mossy bank of a stream, growing not in the ground but on a bed of yellow mosses in which its small white bulb had found a soft nest and from which its one leaf and one flower sprung. The flower was white and made the impression of the utmost simple purity like a snowflower . . . It seemed the most spiritual of all the flower people I had ever met. I sat down beside it and fairly wept for joy . . .
"I never before saw a plant so full of life, so perfectly spiritual. . . . I felt as if I were in the presence of superior beings who loved me and beckoned me to come . . . Could angels in their better land show us a more beautiful plant? How good is our Heavenly Father in granting us such friends as are these plant-creatures, filling us wherever we go with pleasure so deep, so pure, so endless.
"It seems wonderful that so frail and lovely a plant has such power over human hearts. This Calypso meeting happened some forty-five years ago, and it was more memorable and impressive than any of my meetings with human beings excepting, perhaps, Emerson and one or two others . . .
"How long I sat beside Calypso I don't know. Hunger and weariness vanished, and only after the sun was low in the west I plashed on through the swamp, strong and exhilarated as if never more to feel any mortal care. At length I saw maple woods on a hill and found a log house."
(This is a combination of two accounts given by Muir)
Photo: Our Rocky Mountain version of the Calypso Orchid (C. bulbosa or borealis), near Cameron Pass, CO, June 19, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.