"We who travel life's pathway search for our own metaphorical wreath of flawless Arbutus leaves.
And, of course, we search in vain.
We do not find our perfect spray of Arbutus in this life.
March 16, 1927
On this day, landscape architect and columnist Nelva Weber wrote a letter to the editor of The Pantograph - the newspaper out of Bloomington, Illinois.
Before the winter snow has left the pine-clad New England slopes, one may find that tiny harbinger of spring, the Trailing Arbutus. This little flower has a rosy wax blossom, a long trailing stem, and weathered leaves.
Whittier was a lover of this little flower, and it was he who wrote,
"Creeps the Trailing Arbutus over hillock and hollow,
Through leafage whose greenness and glory are fled."
An interesting Indian legend is told about this flower. It was said that the warrior who wore a wreath of perfect Arbutus leaves would never be defeated nor suffer death.
Winona, the beautiful Indian maiden, found a spray of perfect leaves and wove them into a wreath for her father. He was successful in combat. But when his daughter eloped with a warrior from another tribe, he was overcome with grief. His tears fell upon the Arbutus leaves and weathered them. After that, no perfect leaves were to be found.
Now, Winona wished to find a wreath of perfect leaves for her husband. And they wandered hand in hand in search of the leaves. But instead of perfect leaves, they found the charm of love and perfect happiness.
And we who travel life's pathway search for our own metaphorical wreath of flawless Arbutus leaves. And, of course, we search in vain.
We do not find our perfect spray of Arbutus in this life. But if we are kind and thoughtful of others along every step of our journey, we shall receive the charm of love and happiness as a reward for our search.
Nelva Weber Sammataro wrote prolifically about plants and landscape design. She married architect Joseph Sammataro but used her maiden name for her professional work. Her public work included the campuses of Illinois Wesleyan University and Bard College, New York; Purnell School, New Jersey; the Tree of Life Arboretum at Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, Massachusetts; and the First Congregational Church, Litchfield, Connecticut. Her private clients included celebrities like Mary Rockefeller and Oscar de la Renta.