Lucky Alice! Once upon a time, her Aunt Sally gave her a copy of Wild Flowers Every Child Should Know by Frederic William Stack (Doubleday, Page & Company, May 1909)
I know not one thing about Stack, or Alice, or Aunt Sally or Frederic Earle Rockfellow Stack, to whom the book is dedicated:
“To you, my boy whose interest in wild flowers promoted the purpose of this volume and whose delightful companionship made the work a pleasure, to you “sunny Jim” this book is most affectionately dedicated.”
This book is one of my latest acquisitions, purchased at the prompting of Mary Ann from Gardens of the Wild, Wild West. She didn’t have to do much prompting, trust me.
It is an interesting book with a beautiful cover.
There is one color picture opposite the title page, showing three children picking “daisies pied”.
The title page gives a bit of a clue about Stack.
He was formerly field collector or the Museums of Scientific Section of Vassar Brothers Institute, and of Natural History at Vassar College.
The flowers are arranged by colors in the book. I went right to the index and looked up violets, as sort of a litmus test to find out what the book is all about.
I found 15 entries in the index for violets and turned to page 337 and read this:
“Violets are probably the best and most popularly known of all the wild flowers. The Latin name Viola, is derived from the classic Greek, Ion. Jupiter, we are told, fell in love with Io, the daughter of the river god, Inachus, and in order to conceal her from the jealously of Juno, his wife, Jupiter changed Io into a heifer, and then created the fragrant Violet that she might feed upon the delicate petals during her transformation.”
And then Stack notes, “Be this as it may, Jupiter must have considered the creation of the Violet with exceeding affection for Io, since his irony is revealed later in the lines of Shakespeare, who regarded the Violet “sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes.”
Whoa. Jupiter turned his girlfriend into a cow so his wife wouldn’t be jealous, then gave his girlfriend, now a cow, violets that he made for her to eat? And then Shakespeare makes a jab about it. Should children know this? Isn’t there a better story we can tell the children about the lovely violets?
I myself will never look at violets again without thinking about a young cow and a jealous wife. I’m guessing the same will be true for those who just read this post.
Yes, this is my contribution for Wildflower Wednesday sponsored by Gail at Clay and Limestone. I’m sorry to bring the cows into it, but that’s what Stack wrote, and 104 years later, that’s what I read.