Door County’s Big Box
of 96 Colors

Door County’s Big Box of 96 Colors

Everyone always envied the kids whose parents sent them to school with the fanciest crayon box you could buy: the 96 count set, complete with silver, gold and crayons with mystical names like scarlet and blueberry. That box represented all sorts of possibilities. It was a key that could unlock your wildest coloring dreams. Since those days, my crayon yearning has translated into other colorful collections: felt squares, beads, embroidery floss, rocks, food coloring, and leggings! Insatiable. But, my best collection will never be stored on a shelf in my house. Nada.

Here it comes, the fanciest flower feast to rival that 96 box set, this side of the Rockies: Door County Blossom Time.

One of the most amazing facets of this spring flower show is that NO HUMAN created it, produced it, packaged it, sold it in a shop. IT JUST IS. The 96 box crayon set is a poor imitation, by comparison.

From a virtual mini ocean of three-inch-one-shade-darker-than-basic-primary-green, jaunty, pointy leaves, come a plethora of equally jaunty vivid purply-blue tiny Dwarf Lake Iris. Their bright white and sunburst yellow middles make attractive honeybee landing pads. Dwarfies are Great Lake snobs. It’s the only place in the whole entire world where they will grow. Hugging close along paths, these darlings adore sunshine. The day is false-warm, a coolness waits in the wings and the blossoms know it; they are super short lived, all their vivid, royal-violet splendor fading after a day to crinkly washed- out pinky grays.

Sheer elegance, the stately pure white, beribboned Showy Lady Slipper, poking its delicate pink, tender pouch up out of thick, deeply ridged mat-green masses of curling foliage, without a by-your-leaf, smack along busy human thoroughfares, prominent in soft late-Springtime air. Defiant. Certainly not hidden at all. Strong-stemmed. Appearing in small, silent groupings, commanding, yes, demanding attention. They form a sharp contrast to their paved asphalt proximity and nearby scaly brown bark interspersed with skinny waxy green needles of the adjacent primitive conifer forest.

If you look closely, just like in peoples’ multi-colored eyes, the hues of the Forget-Me-Nots ripple with changes from tawny pinks to sky-blues and dusky purples. But always, their tiny, cheerful middles are spot on, bright white with a dotted yellow splash. You can breath easy when the Forget-Me-Nots come along, grouping up amidst shrubby forest floors strewn with last year’s soft pale-brown fallen leaves and rusty pine needles. There may still be a bit of chill in the air, but time for snow is past.

Springtime is not complete without a glimpse of the elusive baby doll-pink Twin Flower. On your hands and knees, slapping at mosquitoes as they try to bite your backside, peering into a patch of seemingly innocuous standard forest floor, and there they are: yes indeed, two tiny conical bells to a plant, on seemingly fragile, two-inch-high stalks, with miniature waxy oval, dusty green leaves spread out flat on the dank brown soil attempting to catch every available bit of streaming, fleeting spring sunlight. Sometimes there will be a whole row of these babies, lined up along the edge of a trail, all too easy to miss if you hurry past, intent on your steps instead of your stops.

Orange is pretty low on my personal favorite colors list. But, there is nothing that so speaks to summer as a standing tall, graceful Wood Lily, swaying ever so gently from its sandy nest, such an unexpected flower in a forest; bright tangerine, lemon yellow, dotted inky black, on a tank-top warm kind of day, with the sun beating down directly, at last, onto the bare skin of your shoulders, a bead of sweat on your upper lip, low insect buzzing in the background.
It’s time, once again, to throw off winter’s constraints and color our world with Door County’s Big Box of Colors.