Coltsfoot is a flower that is inconspicuous in appearance, often ignored by travellers passing by. Despite the ignorance of the world, Coltsfoot still grows strong, blooming within obscurity. It wasn’t until a botanist recognised this humble flower for its remarkable scent that remains during a season when all others have faded. With the help of a single botanist Coltsfoot was cultivated with care and now perfumes our saloons from all over the world. Just like Coltsfoot, victims of trafficking so often go unnoticed by us all, hidden in plain sight, and yet they are precious men, women and children who are amongst the most remarkable in courage and determination, and have the potential to enrich all of our lives. The story of Coltsfoots journey from obscurity began by a simple painter noticing it.
The Coltsfoot story goes:
Genius, hid under a modest appearance, strikes not the eyes of the vulgar. But if the glance of an enlightened judge chances to observe it, its strength is immediately revealed, and it receives the admiration of those whose stupid indifference had not observed it.
A young Dutch miller, having a taste for painting, amused himself, in his leisure hours, by representing the landscapes amid which he lived. The mill, the cattle of his master, the beautiful verdure, clouds, smoke, light and shade, were all portrayed with an exquisite truth. As soon as a picture was finished, he took it to a colour-dealer, who gave him its value in materials to produce another. One feast-day, the innkeeper of the place, wishing to ornament the hall where he received his guests, bought two of these pictures. A celebrated painter stopped at his inn, and admiring the truth of the landscapes, offered and gave a hundred florins for that which had not cost a crown, and promised, at the same time, to take all the artist could produce. Thus the reputation of the painter was established, and his fortune made. As wise as happy, he never forgot his dear mill; we find the representation of it in all his pictures, which are so many masterpieces. Who would believe that plants have the same fate as men, and that they require a patron to appreciate them?
Coltsfoot, notwithstanding its sweet smell, had remained a long time unknown at the foot of Mount Pila, where no doubt it would still have bloomed in obscurity, if a learned botanist, M.Villau de Grenoble, had not appreciated its beneficent qualities. This perfumed plant appears at a season when all others have disappeared. As the great artist eulogized the poor painter, so did M.Villau the humble flower; he gave it a distinguished rank in his works; and, since then, the tussilage has been cultivated with care, and perfumes our brilliant saloons.
They shall own thee the sweetest and fairest of flowers,
That smile in our woodlands, or blush in our bowers!
They shall own thee a lovelier gem of delight,
Than they that illumine the veil of Midnight!
By Frances Sargent Osgood
Coltsfoot, reserach and painting for SOHTIS by Scottish artist Jenna Gillespie
Call to Action
There are ways that we can all be involved in being part of the solution to modern slavery and human trafficking in Scotland. Some as simple as raising awareness by following SOHTIS on social media and sharing our posts or joining our volunteer hubs, linking us with useful networking contacts and fundraising or donating funds.
Please get in touch to find out how you can join us in bringing freedom.
If you have suspicions, or concerns about anyone in your neighbourhood or your contact the MODERN SLAVERY HELPLINE on 08000 121 700, if there is immediate danger contact
POLICE SCOTLAND on 999