Archive for July 2010

In the midst   4 comments

Sometime in the midst of that torrential downpour mid-last week, short-lived, but intense, we lost the three-inch bud on the cutting. It wasn’t likely to last, but the effort of that portion of the plant, cut too early, to reproduce, is impressive. It’s something like the reverse of remembered limb syndrome…Here the amputated part may “remember” the whole body of the plant. Or the cutting is so full of the life-force regardless of its connection to the mother plant that it stretches forward, no matter what.

Blanca blooms in the midst of whatever’s going on in our life. Last week I estimated she’d bloom tonight, Thursday, and I considered transporting her to a friend’s dinner in Noyac, or of inviting that dinner party to transplant itself around Blanca in Bay Point.  But the bud was lengthening more rapidly. I thought she might bloom on Wednesday when the kids would be visiting. How lovely, I thought, for them to see it. But it’s a late night kind of affair, and these are little ones, ages 4, 7 and 9…Would she captivate them? What appears like rapid blooming to adults may be just a slow, boring expanse of white to a child up too late past her bedtime. Those questions weren’t to be answered as the bud was growing at slightly more than one inch per day. She would bloom not on Thursday for the dinner party, nor on Wednesday for the nieces and nephew’s visit, but she would bloom on Tuesday, for the writing students.

This summer’s writing workshop is titled “The Single Effect”, what Edgar Allen Poe meant by calling for every element of a short story to contribute to the “single effect” of the work on the reader. Here was Blanca, pouring her heart out into this one single flower that remained on the plant just now. Every effort of her soaking up water and nutrients would spread into that glorious flower that would open on the night of our third class meeting.  So a last minute pizza- and- wine supper was hastily arranged. “It’s like a birth,” said one.  We sat around the table with our slices chatting excitedly, then we’d step outside, wine glasses in hand, where Blanca would be quietly dilating. It was a cool evening, the moon a waning gibbous, one singular white orb in the sky pulling at one white flower on the deck, in singular harmony, and the students like petals around the center.

Posted July 29, 2010 by Canio's in on writing

Blanca persists   Leave a comment

Just a few days after her triple blooming in a sudden summer downpour, we noticed something sprouting once again. The rain was brief, but very much needed, and left tiny pearls on her petals. It was a hot and steamy evening, and the flower’s late night fragrance hung in the close air. Lines from a supermarket romance? Perhaps. The elements are all there. Add a flute of champagne; some strawberries in a bowl.  Friends were enthralled. We were fulfilled. This singular plant beguiling.

And she continues. The mother plant has issued a post script, perhaps. A bud now measuring three inches and swollen at the tip is healthy, full of promise, the plant expressing itself. Buds are sprouting once again on cuttings severed too soon. We’ve been through this before, but this time, one bud has persisted to three inches looking quite sturdy and also rounding at the tip. Other cuttings have again produced a series of budlets tiny just now, but with the advantage of weeks, and more developed root systems, we have hope. Once again.

Posted July 19, 2010 by Canio's in bud watch

Botanical time, human time   Leave a comment

We’ve gotten better at predicting when Blanca will bloom. But only slightly.  She teaches us, but we are slow learners. And each blooming is somewhat different.  When Blanca blooms depends on her own internal and external rhythms, on the weather, on astronomical effects. She’s always several paces ahead and knows all. We follow in her trail, measuring, recording, after the fact.  Who really knows when the next comet will blaze across the sky?

Last year we worried she might bloom while we were away on vacation. Should we reroute our trip? Last week she bloomed the night we had a bookshop event. Hosting that followed by a gathering around Blanca proved a bit tricky. But it came off. When that white Star enters our days is up to the Star, or to the force propelling that Star. She may come at an inconvenient time, or she may arrive at the most appropriate moment. At present we’re watching an inch-long bud on the mother plant, and another of about the same size, on the cuttings I made too early.Where will you be the next time Blanca blooms?

We’re on Blanca’s time now.

Posted July 14, 2010 by Canio's in about time

Past, present, future   Leave a comment

Last night the first of Blanca’s heavy swollen buds bloomed gloriously under a clear night sky, stars sprinkled above. Perhaps in honor of Kevin’s on-going birthday celebration, this first of what seems like a two-night botanical extravaganza was a surprise to our guest. He’d never seen the flower before. “Exotic, and erotic,” he said of the plant when the bud was only just starting to open, about a half-inch at 7:45 p.m. By 10:15,  she was in full glory, wings outspread, intoxicating scent heavy in the very-warm night air. Mesmerized by her singular beauty, I wondered what it’d be like to stand in her native terrain, the Central American rain forest, surrounded by such plants, multiple blooms silently opening in that steamy night. In gratitude for Blanca’s long journey, the details of which we know not we sat transfixed.

By morning the first flower hung like an antique tassel, its long neck spiraled and swaying in a slight breeze. Three buds still in the very warm morning air looked eager to open. While we inspected them further, we noticed the tiny quarter-inch bud of yet another blossom pushing forward. The spent flower, those ready to open, and the neophyte all on one very fertile plant. We’ve already been awed, but there’s more to look forward to. Another baby bud appeared this morning on one of the cuttings I’d made prematurely. A second chance; forgiveness, perhaps, or rather, the relentless cycle of life pressing forward.

Posted July 9, 2010 by Canio's in about time

Blooming alert   Leave a comment

Blanca’s three remaining buds are swelling, whites showing and very likely to bloom all three tonight. Flower fever!

Posted July 9, 2010 by Canio's in bud watch

Anticipation, expectations and a caution   2 comments

By 9 this morning, it was nearly ninety degrees. The largest bud now measures eight inches. Seems they’re growing almost an inch a day in this intense heat. At this rate we could have blooming as early as the weekend. Ray is preparing some fresh smoked fish for us. Friends are eager to see Blanca bloom before they leave town on various trips. Could you make it bloomer sooner? they asked expectantly. We haven’t done a thing but keep watch, and with not a little trepidation.  Blanca has apparently heard their call. She’s pouring out whatever she’s got that makes her fertile. Is  she getting too much sun? I worry. Will the heat abate, or exhaust us all? What’s become more obvious is that one bud, at just 5 inches,  is slowing down, lagging behind the others. It’s color is off. Gone to that reddish-yellowish we saw in the smaller buds that dropped off earlier. Interestingly, this smaller bud shares a host leaf with the whopping 8-incher. Can that one leaf sustain the two? We’ll have to wait and see. Which is what we do: wait and watch carefully. And maybe think about what snacks we’ll put out to celebrate Blanca’s first bloom of the season. First bloom. Will there be more come fall? We always want more…a sign of an obsession.

Posted July 6, 2010 by Canio's in bud watch

The practice   Leave a comment

Last fall I took  measurements daily. Kept track of bud length, temperature, made careful  observations, noted the presence of pests, weather, etc. This summer, I’m not as disciplined. Days slip by. The buds now measure between 6 and 7 inches. I’m less precise. We’re in for a string of hot days which may increase rate of growth, may tax the mother plant. I’ll have to be more assiduous. Am I already taking the blossoming for granted? I’m assuming it will come in  a few weeks, but still the buds could falter, be knocked off. The repulsive mealy bugs might triumph after all. The truth is we don’t know. We have to wait and see, and that’s the practice: waiting, observing, being surprised and grateful for what comes. Sense what the plant may need, and try to assist without getting in the way. Last year I got too close with the tape measure, knocked off a bud. Perhaps it would have dropped on its own. Still we humans are clumsy making our way. Our way proves destructive. Witness the violence unleashed in the Gulf of Mexico and our ineptitude, callousness, our cavalier attitude. Day by day, measuring, observing, the effects of avarice there.  Here, Blanca, in the back yard of the East End of Long Island has adapted a long way from Central America. How have we endeavored to accommodate her?

Posted July 5, 2010 by Canio's in about time, bud watch

Bud drop   Leave a comment

We’re down to only one bud remaining on the cuttings. It measures 1.5 inches, but it doesn’t look good. It’s turning a sickly yellowish-reddish color. All the other buds, we had seven a week ago, have dropped off.  Was the soil too wet? Was it that strange “jumping cotton” pest I pinched off almost every morning? Was it the simple fact these buds were growing from leaf cuttings that had not yet rooted? We’ll never know. What I do know is that I pruned too soon. My eagerness to  share the wealth of the plant and to “improve” her shape got the better of me. In an attempt to reign in a straggly branch, I  lopped off a number of leaves that were just setting buds. They were too small to see. I’d left them to “dry” in the garage, and next thing I knew, buds were sprouting. Lots of them. What if I’d left the plant in tact? Would all these buds have survived to blossoming? Probably not. But a number of them would have, and it would have been quite a show. A beautiful shower of white and an infusion of fragrance that likely would have permeated the neighborhood.  We will not experience that particular inflorescence.  Still all is not lost. There are five healthy buds now measuring four  inches on the mother plant. It looks like these will hold, and we’ll have a late July blooming party one steamy summer night after all.

Posted July 2, 2010 by Canio's in bud watch

Only White   Leave a comment

One of the effects of living with Blanca these several years and of only lately seeing her bloom, is that my visual color preference has simplified.  I find  white flowers mesmerizing. I have developed a devotion to them and hope one day to create a small white garden. Who needs color when white contains them all? Color  seems excessive, over-much, as if the natural harmony of all-colors has tilted out of balance. There are varieties of white, of course.  The deep purity and creamy richness of the gardenia is incomparable. A priest friend recently explained these are “St. Anthony’s flowers” associated with the saint of lost causes, origin unknown. So be it. We lose things in the depths of white, we suffer snow-blindness, and squint in white summer sunshine at noon when it’s just too bright to see. The simplicity of the lily-of-the-valley, Emily Dickinson’s white cotton dress; the extravagance of the Casablanca, even the elegance of an egret in golden-green marsh grass show us white is Everything. I’m fond of an old jasmine vine, its fragrant white whirls the perfect complement to its shiny dark green leaves. A friend gave me seeds of  white campion.  It’s classic contrast of simple white with silvery leaves seems to harken back to antiquity.  The whiteness of our night bloomer is a sheer white, some petals translucent, silken, delicate. One gets lost looking deeply within. One thereby enters eternity. For just  one night.

Posted July 1, 2010 by Canio's in Uncategorized