The Brooks Tale By Winthrop Packard
The brook tells me more of nature than it does of man, perhaps because it has known man for so short a time, though I should say shows rather than tells. A hundred forms of life live in it and on it, while through the air above float a thousand more, or the evidences of them. Down stream come the scents of the flowers in bloom above. Just a week or two ago the dominant odor among these was the sticky sweetness of the azalea. It is an odor that breathes of laziness. Only the hot, damp breath of the swamp carries it and lulls to languor and "to sensuous dreams. Mid-August is near and though here and there a belated azalea bloom still glows white in the dusk of the swamp its odor seems to have no power to ride the wind. Instead a cleaner, finer perfume dances in rhythmic motion down the dell, swaying in sprightly time to the under rhythm of the brook's tone, a scent that seems to laugh as it greets you, yet in no wise losing its inherent, gentle dignity. The wild clematis is the fairest maiden of the woodland. She, I am convinced, knows all the brook says and loves to listen to it, twining her arms about the alder shrubs, bending low till her 'Starry eyes are mirrored in the dimpled surface beneath her, and always sending this teasing, dainty perfume out upon the breeze that it may call to her new friends. Long ago the Greeks named the Clematis Virgin's Bower, but our wild variety is more than that. It is the virgin.