I identified wild ginger on a hike the other day–Sunday–and I’m still feeling glad. When I was a child, there was almost no sense in which a particular species existed in reality: One could read about anything, but having an encounter, even with an earthworm, seemed somehow impossible–not in the sense of being impractical, but just on an unreal plane, like fairies. Now I am learning a few names, a few forms, and it opens a universe of possible and immanent meetings–suddenly, quietly, something is there. It is a thrill.

Wild ginger produces its blossom right down on the forest floor–this one was concealed under leaves–because its pollinator is a crawling beetle, not a flying bee or moth. The flower is pale red and looks as durable as a helmet.