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So, having seen that I’ve just written a new book titled Ragged Robin, you might be wondering, what is a Ragged Robin?

Ragged Robin by Sherrie Hansen

Depending on where you look, you might find your search for Ragged Robin to include a tiny seaside gift shop, a flute and harp duo that plays Irish traditional music, a nutty, time-traveling cartoon character from the Invisibles, a carnival glass pattern, a quaint café in Australia, a niche jewelry shop, a British landscaping, floral or wreath-making shop, a unique line of designer clothing,  an Etsy shoppe filled wth handmade, heartfilled products for your nest, a book of poetry, or one of Cicely M. Barker’s’s fairy flower illustrations.  

But because you know me and my penchant for writing books about windflowers, in this case, you would look to marshy places, damp meadows, marshes, fens and wet woods–in Scotland.

In wet marshy meadows
A tattered piper strays—
Ragged, ragged Robin;
On thin reeds he plays.

He asks for no payment;
He plays, for delight,
A tune for the fairies
To dance to, at night.

They nod and they whisper,
And say, looking wise,
“A princeling is Robin,
For all his disguise!”

Poem by Cicely M. Barker

(Except my Robin would be playing a tune for the Selkies to dance to on midsummer’s night. Now you might be wondering, what is a Selkie? But that’s a tale for another day.)

Now, back to Ragged Robin, the wildflower… With much-divided petals of lavender-pink, this robust, disheveled beauty of a wildflower might be a bit ragged around the edges, but its delicately-fringed, ragged blossoms are perfect to withstand windy weather. Known for its deeply cleft, feathery petals, ragged robin flowers from late May to early August, and is one of the prettiest to be found in boggy ground, transforming the flat brown bog in early summer.

Much-loved by bees and butterflies, it is dedicated to St. Barnabas because hay-making took place around his Feast Day on June 11 and Ragged Robin could be found amongst the hay. In Shakespeare’s time it was known as Crowflower and is one of the flowers in Ophelia’s garland. In the Victorian language of flowers, it symbolizes ardour, aversion, and wit.

In an ironic twist given the seaside setting of my book, Ragged Robin, the plant contains saponins, a soap substitute that can be used for washing clothes, hair etc. Although generally not harmful to humans, saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and pose a potential danger to aquatic life. (Just one small example of how my Robin was misunderstood by his family…) Hunting tribes in days of old were even known to put large quantities of the flowers in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill fish. (Sounds like shades of Die Droge to me… And now, you might be wondering what is Die Droge? To find out, you will have to read Ragged Robin.)

Another feature of the wildflower, be it good or bad, is that Ragged Robin can be very hard to keep down. If you want to rid an area of ragged robin for good, it will require patience and determination and will require removing all traces of the plant matter, since any plant matter missed will result in new growth. Missed plant matter can sprout months after you thought you removed the ragged robin. (Springs back from adversity– just one trait my readers will love about Ragged Robin.)

So, if you like a man known for his ardour, and his aversion to evil, lies and injustice, with a good dose of wit about him, you’ll love Ragged Robin. Available now in paperback, Kindle, or Kindle Unlimited versions from Amazon. Just click on Ragged Robin. I’ll have copies at the Blue Belle Inn the first week of June.

RAGGED ROBIN…When a deadly virus ravages the seafood population off the coast of Scotland, the townsfolk of Portree, Isle of Skye, are devastated. Charter boat captain Robin Murphy and café owner Becca Ronan stumble upon evidence that ties the contamination to a pharmaceutical company, thrusting them into a tangled net of mystery. Robin fears—Becca hopes—the Selkies, if they’re real, hold the key. Robin says his priority is finding a cure, but the seal folk he’s befriended on his getaway isle have stolen his heart. Becca’s long-lost father and free-spirited mother may save the day…or bring down the ship. As Robin and Becca search for the truth and struggle to keep their businesses afloat, everything is at risk–their love, their beliefs–even their lives.

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