Friday, March 23, 2012

Something Floral, Perhaps?

What a wonderful day!

It was mostly the weather, I guess.  And the fact that, wherever I went, shrubs and trees had burst into bloom.  I drove over to Summit, to go to the gym, and took my usual dream route, through the tonier parts of the neighborhood, and because it was so splendid today, I didn't even mind so much that I'll never come close to living in a home remotely like one of those.  (Besides, now that I know how much work it is to clean our own modest set of gutters...)

On my way back home again, retracing my route (funny how the same street can look so different, depending on which way you're going), I saw two little girls -- skinny 7-year-olds perhaps.  One with long dark hair, the other a blonde.  And they were both dressed in different shades of pink, and were running for all they were worth, down the wide sidewalks past grand houses, and shaded as they raced by the low trees, decked out for the occasion with still more pink.  It was heart-stopping, this simple joy in such a setting.  I wanted to bring the car to a halt and roll down the window and shout out, to tell them that their lives were perfect, right then, at that moment.  But they were fast runners, and it would have made no sense to them, so embedded were they in their joy and their running.  And besides, one doesn't do things like that anymore -- shout mysterious things to little girls.

I stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home, to pick up some fresh flowers for the kitchen table.  The ones I've been watching for the past week or so have turned into a veritable memento mori:  half the dark lilies luxuriating in their beauty, with some buds still promising to open, while the rest of what had been white flowers looking like they've been microwaved.  I have my suspicions about the Trader Joe's floral selection, but I can't resist the colors, and the price.  So what if they only last fifteen minutes?

I was looking for more lilies, and there wasn't such a large selection -- aside, that is, from a big tub of white Easter lilies, for which I'm not yet prepared, especially after yesterday's post.  I spotted a promising clump of blooms, and there, in the midst of all this floral spectacle, was what I think is called a 'stargazer' lily (?) -- a rich raspberry pink, with darker speckles on the white-edged petals, a center of startling lime-green, and an aroma so pungent as to be almost vulgar.  This particular specimen looked so lush, so pliant, so supple against the dark leaves, that I was reminded of some '40's starlet, in a publicity picture, where she seems unable to stand upright under the weight of her own beauty, and has to collapse onto a velvet-covered divan.  I looked at the other possibilities -- it seemed presumptuous to choose such a splendid bouquet.  For me?  But everything else was sub-par at best, and then I thought -- why not bring the starlet home?  At least I'll appreciate her undulating efforts to attract the elusive pollinators (which efforts, I'm afraid to say, are pretty much doomed to failure).  'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful', she says.

With the flowers safely in the kitchen, in a holding pattern in the sink, I went back outside, to see about taking care of the front yard's grass problem.  We have a handyman (or, does he have us?  The relationship is unclear, at least to me) who suggested that I buy some grass seed and some fertilizer, so he could apply everything before the rains that are due, starting tomorrow.  I followed his directions, bought the supplies, and haven't seen him since.  So, time being of the essence, I found the little spreaders I bought last year (in spite of the fact that we already had one in the garage), read the instructions so I would know which to lay down first, and went to work.

It took only a few minutes, to spread both the grass seed and the fertilizer treatment.  While I was working, my lovely neighbors Camille and her daughter Marguerite came to visit, bringing me a bright yellow pansy in a pot.  Then Camille stopped to admire the heavy blooming fronds of our flowering cherry tree, and I encouraged her to come and take some for her mantle piece.  Imagine, me offering flowers to someone, from my own home!  What luxury!

I put the little pansy in the side garden, where, if I remember it, I'll put in some primroses too -- I like their riotous, improbable colors, and the fact that they're at least technically perennials.  I put away the spreader, and checked on the rest of my supplements -- an aluminum treatment, to encourage the hydrangeas to produce blue flowers, and some rose food, for the rampant shrub roses I planted a few years ago, along the front sidewalk.  I always thought roses were finicky and difficult to grow.  My main concern with these guys is keeping them from taking over all available space.  They stretch their thorny little stems as far as possible, and make it difficult for pedestrians to get past.

But they're such wonderful roses -- when they're at their best, the color of each flower is that intense dark red, that you see when you've just had a little paper cut, and the blood has rushed up through your broken skin, but hasn't yet run.  Deep and rich, and so saturated that, against the dark green foliage, there's a sort of color struggle that makes it difficult to look at them for very long.  I've extended my line of roses up the walk a little way -- we had a linden tree that fell down, during a wind storm two years ago (it wasn't doing well -- it broke clean at ground level and was mostly hollow inside), and I thought I'd use the new space for more roses.  I couldn't find the same variety as the one I first planted, and this will be their first year -- we'll see what transpires.

I also found a volunteer buddleia, right at the edge of the sidewalk.  I'm not really fond of that plant, but this one was doing so well, and had such interesting blossoms -- a pale lilac color, with bright, saffron-yellow stamens -- that I thought I should keep it around.  Shades of the orphanage, don't you know?  I did transplant it, and I'm hoping that the move hasn't impaired its health too much.  They really are weeds, you know.  But the butterflies don't care. 

So.  The lawn is seeded and fed.  The rose food, I'll probably apply next week, as well as the hydrangea magic stuff.  Just half an hour ago, I went through the floral nightmare that had been sitting in front of me for a week, and rescued what could be saved.  I've combined these survivors with the two bunches of lilies that I bought, and now Rita (Hayworth, of course) is gazing at me with quite a come-hither look.  If I were the right kind of insect, I'd just submit.  Against such a supple, willing temptress, what's a poor winged hexapod to do?  Resistance, after all, being futile.

©  2012       Walter Zimmerman        

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