ESCANABA - Three wild sisters danced in the north woods.
Soft and supple, perfumed and pretty, they each march to the tune of a different drummer.
The three girls never could quite agree on anything!
Karen (Rose) Wils photo
The “wild” sisters of the North Woods.
As their Mother well knew, if the oldest one wanted to sleep, the middle one wanted to play and the youngest wanted to eat.
As they grew, it was hard to determine which one was the fairest. All three were beauties and good, true, tough, ladies of the north.
Mother Nature planted her daughters in the wilds and then let them go to thrive and spring up in their own favorite niche.
The oldest daughter and the tallest made her home in the cool wetlands of Upper Michigan. Boggy and beautiful, freshened by tastes of limestone, the showy lady's slipper rooted her family between the cedar trees and the tamarack trees.
When the heat and humidity of early July climaxes and the mosquito onslaught starts to subside, the showy lady's slipper blooms. Dressed in elegant velour, deep pink at the toes to the snow-white three pedals around its ankle, the "Showy Lady Slipper" is truly the queen of the swamp.
Then there's the middle sister, who always had to do things her own way. She is living up in the dry forests. Beneath a mixture of hardwoods and hemlocks, this little lady (about 8-11 inches tall) dances with moccasined feet. Her fancy feet are satiny, pink, smooth and artfully veined in fuchsia.
The Pink Lady's Slipper dwells in the humus mats. Her leafless stalk bears one flower( with a fissure down the front) in mid June.
The baby of the Michigan orchid family, is the golden beauty the Yellow Lady's Slipper. This one has a sweet fragrance and resides in royal, rich woods often under pine trees. Wearing a tiny shoe of yellow silk, she is the smallest of the orchids in our area.
When the wild columbines and Indian Paint Brushes bloom, there will be a few Yellow Lady's Slipper there too enjoying the warm June's sunshine.
Michigan also grows two other wild orchids, the Ram's Head and Small White Lady's Slipper. They are rare indeed.
All Lady's Slippers are protected. Don't pick them especially the Showy one . It will make you itch like poison ivy.
But if you see the Ladies out there, spend some time with them. They like all girls love having their picture taken.
Karen Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.