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Cheerful Buttercups
Photo: Kelvin Vroegop
Spring is slowly walking through the door where I live. Melting snow, windy days, and warmer weather all point to my favorite season when the world around me takes off the mantle of gray and white and slips on a velvet jacket of green. Walking leisurely with my three-year-old granddaughter in our field a few days ago, she looked down and said, “Look, Grandpa!” There, peeking through dead grass, was a brilliant, small, yellow flower—a buttercup.

The buttercup flower (or crowfoot) comes from the genus Ranunculus (which means “little frog”) and contains over 400 species of plants. Most are perennials with bright, yellow, lustrous flower petals (usually five). Sometimes the flowers are white (with a yellow center), red, or orange. We often find them in the springtime, but they can bloom most anytime throughout the summer.

The name for this pretty little flower comes from the idea, so some say, that the plant makes yellow butter when eaten by cows. Actually, buttercups are toxic to cattle and can actually be a skin irritant! Another little game associated with the flower is to hold it under the chin of a friend. If you see a yellow reflection, then your friend supposedly likes butter.

Coyote's Eyes

In the Pacific Northwest the buttercup is sometimes called “Coyote’s Eyes,” because of the fable that the coyote tossed it’s eyes into the air for fun until an eagle swooped down and caught it’s eyes and flew away. So, as the legend goes, the coyote replaced its eyes with the buttercup flower.

When I look down in the spring and see this sunny, humble flower smiling up at me, it reminds me of how the Bible teaches each of us to be cheerful. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance…” (Proverbs 15:13).

It doesn’t take special occasions or unexpected gifts to make us happy. We can choose, each day, to turn our faces toward heaven and shine like the buttercup. A simple smile, especially on a dull day, can brighten your eyes and bring joy to the heart of another.

Go pick a buttercup!

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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