|George Buster Singleton|
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Wildflower is wonder of autumn” was originally published in the Oct. 10, 1996 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
As the hot, humid days of September slowly disappear over the distant horizons, and the cool autumn days of early October appear on the scene, we know that the lazy days of Indian Summer are close at hand. Along with these days of carefree feelings and the lust for wandering, also brings forth across the hill country the beautiful wildflower, the goldenrod.
There are some that refer to this beautiful wildflower as a weed. But, this wildflower, with all its beauty, dots the open fields and along the roadsides for many a mile throughout our state. These rich yellow blossoms sway in the autumn winds as endless waves on an open sea, being tossed to and fro by the witch devils or whirlwinds as they swirl across the covered hillsides and open fields.
So far as anyone knows, there is no known use for the beautiful wild goldenrod, other than the Creator saw fit to place it upon this earth so that man might gaze upon its beauty and know that it, too, has a place in the overall picture of our universe. Its raw primitive beauty is something to behold as these wild beauties cover the rough, rocky hillsides here throughout the deep south. We spend huge amounts of money on our domestic flowers, such as camellias, azaleas and many more. But, out there among the rocks and wild underbrush, this beautiful yellow flower covers the landscape without any assistance whatsoever from mankind.
There are some who say they suffer from hay fever or sinus and that the goldenrod’s pollen does much to agitate their nasal system. They say that when they come near this wild beauty, they find themselves coughing, sneezing and large tears streaming from their eyes. These people will tell you that they wish that this wild gypsy flower didn’t exist. These poor creatures will tell you that they wish that the goldenrod would disappear on the winds of oblivion.
But, there are some, who like myself, think that this wild flower’s beauty is such until it was voted to be our state flower at one time in a past period. For many years when we used to sing the stirring words of our state song, one could visualize the wild yellow goldenrod being tossed by the gentle winds across the vast open countryside at harvest time.
As I watch and study this hardy and rugged golden flower, I am reminded of a young beautiful country maiden standing in the autumn winds with her golden hair blowing in the winds of a cool October afternoon. This beautiful country girl has lived her life in a type of competition against the trials and complexes of back country living. But, yet she remains as fresh and as beautiful as this slender wild beauty that survives there among the thorns and brush.
I am of the opinion that we made a mistake when our legislature voted to replace this wild beauty with the camellia. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that the camellia is not a pretty flower. But it has to be petted; it has to be cared for almost on a daily basis. The wild goldenrod continues to spread its raw and primitive beauty in the harsh conditions of the open country. I think that a state flower should represent the strength and endurance of its people. It should be a symbol of both the good times and also the periods of the hard times that our state has gone through.
As I stated earlier, the camellia has to be petted and pampered, but the beautiful goldenrod survives unattended along the rocky slopes of our countryside. Its strong slender beauty calls out to all that will listen and reminds of us of the spacious land and skies that we most always take for granted.
So, as I ride the back roads of our country and see the wild, beautiful goldenrods swaying in the evening breezes, I know that true beauty does not have to be petted and pampered. There on the rough, rocky slopes, the wild goldenrod blossoms in all its splendor. Its determination to bring its wild primitive beauty to the steep rocky slopes proves once again that beauty is to be found wherever one might wander and seek it.
And, as I stand and admire the golden covered hillsides, I am reminded once again of that young, beautiful golden-haired mountain girl, charming, graceful and very beautiful standing there on the side of a steep hill, looking into the sunset with no fear of tomorrow. A young lady who has witnessed some hard times, but knows that somewhere in the distance, there are good times, also. The wild goldenrod is a thing of breathtaking beauty. If there is any doubt in the minds of my readers, seek out the hill country and decide for yourself. The beauty is there and you will not be disappointed. To view this magnificent handiwork of the Great Spirit, means that life can take on a new meaning to those that are the most troubled and view our world from a different perspective.
(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)