Some of Connecticut's official state symbols are perfectly fitting: the state animal is the sperm whale; the state tree is the Charter Oak. Some make no kind of sense: the state insect (why do we have a state insect?!) is the praying mantis. Others are just...neither here nor there.
The state flower, the mountain laurel, I once counted as one of the latter sort. There's nothing wrong with mountain laurel, and it was designated as the official state flower in 1907, which gives it some sort of cred. (It also has a distinguished history that includes brushes with John Smith and Linnaeus.) But I had no particular feelings about it.
And then I went to the Nipmuck State Forest in Union (Connecticut's
least populated town!) and experienced the subtle wonder that is the mountain
laurel sanctuary there.
I was about to write a long description of this
place: how you enter the forest and a tunnel of green leaves stretches out before you, how the
laurel hangs above you in bunches, first white, then pale pink. But I'm not even going to do that.
just going to say GO TO UNION NOW WHILE THE LAUREL IS BLOOMING and see
this place for yourself. If you can't go now, write a little reminder to yourself to go next summer. I didn't just hit my Caps Lock key; it's really that pretty.