Shaggy, messy and blue, that’s aster flowers up in Blue Ridge country. Where it’s hot, asters will turn a weak lavender color, sometimes almost “whiting” out with some dirty spots on them. But in the mountains of the Blue Ridge, the mornings are cool and wet, the afternoons are like a blazing star and the nights are deep with cold. Under these conditions, asters get big and bad and blue, sharply accented by the raging oranges, corals and browns of the autumn leaves. And they are everywhere. Whole hillsides are thigh deep in them. Ugly red brown ditches become airy rivers that move in a whispering quiet along roads that were once Indian trails. Deer ignore them and turkeys search for fallen acorns in the shade of asters’ cloudy blue heads. Lavender and fawn mourning doves bustle and flutter in their nests beneath the long bending stems. Children pull off the feathered pompom heads and bring them home squashed in their palms, because the stems are too tough to break. Wise mothers spread the blue treasure in a saucer of water to try and save them. When the petals blow away and the fluffy seed heads ripen and get crisp, Winter has come.
This painting is a tribute to the rebellious and out-of-control aster.
Original Oil on Canvas by Sheila Pringle. Available at Etsy.