On a drippy July hike in Dolly Sods, my husband, Matt Weiser, took this photo. The bell-shaped flowers glowed white among mosses and ferns. They seemed to me flowers that fairies (if such beings existed, of course) might live among.
Back home, we learned from a search that the plant is Monotropa uniflora. Common names: ghost plant, Indian pipe, corpse plant. It grows in dark environments, like forest understories, and is rare.
Knowing about the natural world makes me feel more connected to it. Every named species has a story behind its moniker. Learning accurate names of neighborhood birds, trees and other plants has been a necessity. I use facts when I am teaching and recording.
But in my mind, the plant I saw on a carefree afternoon is still "fairy flower." I can't get used to the other names.
Prompt: Next time you come across an animal, or a flower or another plant you are unfamiliar with, wait a moment to ask what it's called. Look first. Allow your imagination to offer a name. What you think of reveals a little about how you choose to see, and what matters to you. Then learn the real name and let that expand your view.