The Providence Journal recently featured a list of the official Rhode Island state symbols on the front page.  Here are a few:



State motto: “Hope.”  Nice.  Brief, and thoughtful.



State drink: coffee milk.  Well, hm.  Unique, anyway.  There was a political struggle over this honor between coffee milk and Del’s Lemonade some years ago; finally someone pointed out that the state shouldn’t be getting behind any particular trademarked brand, and coffee milk – of any brand! – won out.



State song: “Rhode Island, It’s For Me.” I’ve never heard it.  Hang on a minute and let me chug over to YouTube to see if I can find a version of it.  Yikes! Save yourselves, kids.  I’m not even gonna give you a link to it.  “Waters rich with Neptune’s life”? “Rhody stole my heart – you can keep the forty-nine”? Narsty gluey stuff.  One of these days I’ll post “Rhode Island Is Famous For You,” which really ought to be the state song.



State mineral: Bowenite.  State mineral: Cumberlandite.  I believe I have seen samples of both at the Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History.  They are okay, as rocks and minerals go. 



State bird: Rhode Island Red.  Yes, we are one of the two states with a chicken for a state bird.  (I will email you a cookie if you can tell me the other.)  The children’s zoo in Roger Williams Park has a couple of Rhode Isand Reds strutting around; they’re more auburn than red, but they’re perfectly nice chickens, and I’m sure they’d be delicious fried.



State flower: Violet.






It is now spring in Rhode Island, and there are violets everywhere.  They are in the grass outside our apartment complex.  They are in the weeds alongside the road.  They poke up through the cracks in the sidewalk.  I was walking alongside Grace Church (built c.1850) in downtown Providence the other day, and there were throngs of violets in the patches of earth alongside the building: purple, lavender, white.



This is the perfect symbol for our state.  Violets are small and modest and lovely.  Even the leaves are pretty, when the flowers have finished blooming.  People don’t mind when they invade their lawn; they’re fresh and colorful, and they thrive.  They are fragrant and charming.  The flowers last no time at all, but they leave a pleasant memory behind.



Now there’s a state symbol I can feel good about.



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