Human Flower Project
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sassafras ~ Four Score and Four
Time turns a grand tree into a coat rack, and then it’s gone. Thank you, Allen.
Sassafras albidum: The next generation
Photo: Allen Bush
By Allen Bush
After record August rains (can you picture 6 ½ inches in 90 minutes?) I was ready to believe this was some sort of comeuppance for the one of coolest Julys on record. Not recording a single day in the 90s, in the heat of summer, was unheard of around Louisville. I imagined it must be like this on the coast of Maine. Then the record rains came. And then, of course, it got dry for the next six weeks. This is the way it goes.
Near the end of September I said good-bye to a sassafras (Sassafras albidum) tree at home. It had been a steady presence in good times and hard times for many years. To accompany my grief, the rains resumed again in mid-October – well, steady bone chilling drizzle, anyway – a real insult to my hopes for a curative Indian summer. Finally, there was a break the week before Halloween. The sugar maple two doors down turned bright orange, in clear view of our family room. The tall spikes of blue-purple monkshood in our garden looked regal, standing at attention. The white blooms of Cyclamen coum and the rain lilies Zephyranthes candida were at my feet. So were the purple colchicums. The golden larch Pseudolarix amablis was starting to turn. Pumpkin vines had been scorched by a light frost that missed the flowering tobacco Nicotiana sylvestris.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
At Home with Chaos
The Obamas are poised to hire a new First Florist, a fan of chaos and French style.
Laura Dowling, said to be the top contender for post of White House florist
Photo: Parisian Events
The latest presidential rumor here in the U.S. is human-flower gossip. Washington Post sources say that Laura Dowling, a Francophile from Alexandria, Virginia, will likely become the new White House florist.
“In June, chief florist Nancy Clarke retired after 31 years in the mansion, and there was speculation that Michelle Obama wanted a more contemporary look for flowers. Two weeks ago, three designers slipped into the White House for a tryout: Each created a state dinner centerpiece, flowers for the Oval Office, etc.—and Dowling’s romantic French look apparently won the day.”
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The Rain Letters
Sandy Ao, photographer and friend, showers us with West Bengal’s cultures of rain.
Citizens of Kolkata wade the streets at the end of the monsoon, October 2009
Photo: Sandy Ao
Note: In May, reading reports of cyclone Aila that struck West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh, we contacted our friend in Kolkata Sandy Ao, with alarm. Over the past several months, she’s been writing to us about how rain shapes the culture of the region. September’s monsoon is a season of myth and very real power. It brings relief, disarray, death, and celebration. Thank you, Sandy!
May 27, 2009
This cyclone was a most welcome one for a change!
We did not have rain for months. Actually during the last 8 months, we had some dust storms and a spell of rains for 2/3 occasions only. Normally we have rain during Saraswati Puja. Or at least during Good Friday. But this year not even a drop of rain was there.
We had the heat waves throughout the country, and Kolkata had the hottest day with Mercury touching 43c.+ (109.4F). So we feel this strong wind and rain almost like God sent!
Culture & Society • Ecology • Gardening & Landscape • Permalink
Sunday, October 11, 2009
October in the Sun
Heps, skullers, and “The true joy of the long dead child” from John Levett’s almanac.
Essay and photos by John Levett
It’s late Friday afternoon. I’m sitting on the bed looking across the Close where I live. I’m looking through the condensation on the window. The condensation tells me that it’s about the time of the year to switch the heating back on to low. There are few resentments in my life; paying money to energy companies is one of them so I switch off from May to October, patch up heavy-duty socks, upgrade to a thick top and start shutting doors.
On the desk below the window is a pile of books. It’s only twenty days to go before The Long Dark. The Long Dark lasts from November to the end of February. It’s the time for all those things that get pushed to the back burner when long walks, cycling days, rose fussing, garden visiting and sunset gazing take over. Mostly it’s study time—keeping the brain in gear, clearing the bookshelf of the unread, planning the listening. This year I’m going back to Kolakowski & ‘Main Currents of Marxism.’ He was one of the great writers of the last century and ‘Main Currents …’ was his greatest piece, his greatest challenge. I’m also re-reading Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill and Edward Thompson. It’s as much an exercise in how history has been written as the history itself. I’m reading Shaw and Nietzsche on Wagner too. I listen to a lot of opera during The Long Dark, go to a lot of films, go to dance, go to theatre. Most of The Long Dark is what I owe to the left side of my brain.
Art & Media • Gardening & Landscape • Secular Customs • Permalink