Monday, January 17, 2011

Pasque Flower and Liatris -- More From The Book

Along with narrative chapters in my new mini garden memoir, I'm also incorporating prose poemy type entries on a few garden plants that stand out to me. They all stand out, so it's hard to pick and choose, but here are two:

Pulsatilla Vulgaris – Pasque Flower

In April fingered leaves reach up like praying hands, and from their centers an oval of dark magenta rises covered in peach fuzz. The stem too, thick and short, seems to be covered in a white halo, as if emerging from a bed of frost. The thin petals unfurl, dark purple, at the center a gumdrop of yellow stamens. And there, at the center of the center, a wild explosion of purple like a frozen mushroom cloud, the style, an echo of the flower’s rising, the petals unfurling. Everything about this is chilled, preserved, a bridge between the cold nights and suddenly warm days. Every new bud breaking ground seems awkward and unsure, even premature. They keep low to the ground, careful to not leave the safety of the warming soil. In the evening the only sign that there was a flower is the gathering together of soft tentacles to preserve the next day’s resurrection.

Liatris Ligulistylis -- Meadow Blazing Star

August is pouring down heat, is thick with humidity, is raining monarchs. On five foot spikes blooms zigzag, stagger, step up the long ladder of growth, each flower placed in such a way that it might accommodate dozens of butterflies at once. The bright purple petals spill from their centers, fifty or more, each licking the air with undetectable scents. One monarch erratically hovers then lands. Another. Another. Finally a half dozen at once until something shakes them, stirs them up into the air, each making a wide circle of the garden and slowly spiraling in back toward the blooms. This is the perfect time of year, the last of the monarchs emerging, readying for their exodus south. In two months puffs of seed will spill from the places where the blooms were. Blow on them like a dandelion. Each seed takes flight like a butterfly’s shadow, released from the earth to be sheltered by it again in some place that will echo this one.

I have 35 chapters, maybe around 80 pages. About time to see how they fit into a book, in one Word document (always a little apprehensive about this big step, is it too soon to move in together?).


Ginny said...

Vivid and beautiful word pictures!

Susan in the Pink Hat said...

Props for taking on nature writing as a writing topic. I have a difficult time tackling this type of descriptive writing. It is so easy to succumb to what I call transcendental sentiment. You set out to describe a flower and all of a sudden you're sobbing about double rainbows. But it looks like you're off to a good start. Just try to avoid all of that sparkling morning dew. It tends to make the ink run on the page.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Ginny--Thank you kindly for reading them!
Susan--No dew? Argh. It is hard to not turn transcendental, so as I go along I do think to myself "think luscious catalog description." But then I start writing "does well in clay, full sun, like a deep watering...."

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Just read all six January posts. Nice writing space: I agree about necessity--just got a room this summer. Loved description of writing process. Nothing like the misery one feels in the middle of an essay, I always say.

100 pages by Feb: impressive. You tell a good story. I like the book concept--the idea of variety.

More comfortable with liatris than pasque--maybe because I know the flower better. "Four" is funny.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Adrian--About time you caught up with my blog! (Now I guess I need to do the same....) Misery and joy at the same moment--that's when you know you're really writing. I just tried yesterday to put 40 chapters together in the book, and it was painful, sorta like that game, "Operation."