Archive for the ‘about time’ Category

November Effort   Leave a comment

With some unexpected free time one afternoon last month, I went to the garage to pot up some cuttings I’d taken from Blanca just before she was brought to the greenhouse. We were loading up the tropicals, and  I was gripped with a greedy possessiveness. I wanted some of Blanca with me over winter.  So “just in case” something happens and perhaps to improve her shape, I made one bold slice.  Three small pots with three leaf cuttings each seem content enough just now on an end table in the living room near a west-facing window. I’ll keep my eye on them in the coming months. Something to look forward to. Their sprouting, a small Advent.
Meanwhile some other more mature cuttings have been adopted out. I chose good homes for them. Out into the world they went in a sudden gesture of letting go. One day, I hope they’ll spread their magnificence on others.  Light a candle against the darkness.

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Posted December 5, 2010 by Canio's in about time, autumn, botany, gardening, Uncategorized

Degree Days   Leave a comment

We learned about degree days this summer. We didn’t have enough of them, even though it was so hot for most of the season.  A sudden dip in temperatures late August from the mid to high 80s down to the 70s  likely delayed Blanca’s blooming.  But it was a shift I wasn’t entirely aware of. I thought I’d been pretty clever predicting almost infallibly which night Blanca would bloom.  I’d put out the word to friends to come for a party, but by 7 :30 p.m. when bud opening  should have begun, nothing had happened. The buds remained sealed shut.  I tried again the next night. And the next. Then I had to admit those buds really weren’t large enough to open.

Bill, our tree expert friend reminded us how important degree days are to a  plant’s growth. Those accumulated days of heat, a certain minimum that must be maintained for plant development are essential. Farmers watch these measurements carefully as degree days  also signal when certain insect pests may become mature enough to damage  crops. Then out come the pesticides. No such action here. Just the waiting and watching,  and the lesson, once again: stay alert; don’t get too far ahead of yourself.  Don’t assume ahead of where the plant actually is.

We’d had a furiously busy events schedule the weekend I thought Blanca would bloom. Anticipating her blooming each night was what got me through each day. Then each night she remained closed actually became something of a reprise.  Friday, Saturday, Sunday passed with more inquiring phone calls, and more postponements. “Is she blooming, yet?” friends would ask. “Not yet, ” I’d reply sheepishly. “Maybe tomorrow; tomorrow, for sure,” I’d say attempting to regain my footing.  But I didn’t really know what was going on. So we waded through the weekend like this wondering when they’d open. Meanwhile,  my credibility and certainty seemed to fade.

Once Monday rolled around, the shop events over, we were rested and ready. And so was Blanca, apparently.  She rewarded us and a group of new comers with eight glorious blossoms in one night. We lost track counting in the dazzling display. It was a perfect evening to sit out around the beloved Queen of the Night and enjoy each other’s company. On Tuesday one more bud  opened, a quiet coda,  just in time for cousin Frank’s visit. Another opportunity to  sit at the foot of beauty and realize no matter how frenzied I get, there are moments of calm in the storm. Slow down; be observant; don’t assume, she reminds us. The temperatures had cooled, and Blanca’s blooming held off until I could really appreciate it, in a new way, with new friends. All over again, but still learning something new.

Posted September 19, 2010 by Canio's in about time, bud watch, Uncategorized

Stop Time   Leave a comment

Robert’s watch has always run a bit fast, about five minutes. Lately it’s been expediting, running twelve hours, 24 ahead of where we are in this time zone, Eastern, daylight saving. I pull the stem out and stop its relentless race forward. I set the watch, a Perry Ellis with Roman numerals, black leather strap in a ceramic dish and wait a day until the time and date catch up, meridians matched. We recalibrate. That’s how Robert lived, worried there wasn’t enough time, running too fast, moving too far ahead of himself. So he died too soon, five minutes before midnight.

Blanca is another kind of time clock. The white face of her blooms mark a kind of midnight or noon of her day when meridians line up and the elaborate flowers punctuate a kind of urgency. Procreate. Pollinate. Propagate.

“The creative process is overcoming the doubt,” one young novelist recently said. Robert worked against the clock, rising early before his day job to write chapters of DeKooning’s Bicycle. A year after it was published, he died.  Yet it’s one way he’s still around. His words on the page. His voice still audible.

I’ve not yet seen the fruits of the night-bloomer. Apparently they are edible but take almost a year to ripen! Such a rare fruit must taste very sweet, yet I read they can sometimes taste bitter. All that waiting.  They are said to be reddish or yellow, or even green. Elusive flesh.

Still Blanca keeps trying. Perhaps one day a seed will set,  an “egg” will take within her ovary. And once that fruit begins to swell, she will begin to die. Her work completed.

Posted August 23, 2010 by Canio's in about time, on writing, Uncategorized

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

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