Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Impossible Abundance, 18 and counting…   Leave a comment

The seven-year-old plant, is that young or old for an epiphyte?, has spilled a record eighteen buds. They now measure at least three inches and have clearly differentiated bud-head from throat. I spell out the numbers so you know it’s no typo: eighteen buds. One already weakening, not all of these will bloom. But for now, they each hold that promise. Blanca bejeweled as she is in a necklace of fecundity, continues to entrance. The days and nights have been exceptionally warm and humid with only a brief respite this morning. Bud growth, and bud drop will continue as we begin the countdown, and try to predict which night she’ll send out her signal flares.

To what do we attribute this burst of buds: a sudden rain shower? nutrients from the compost filtering through her roots? some perfection of productivity after the first smaller bloom cycle in July? Blanca surprises. Her buds hang like a shower of tears one day, like alluring tassels another. She intrigues; she beckons. We follow blindly…

Posted August 7, 2012 by Canio's in bud watch, summer, Uncategorized

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Independence Day   1 comment

There may be something to the fact that this 4th of July my wayward attention is drawn back once again to the night bloomer. Temps are in the high 80s this noon, and soon I’ll be heading to the bay, but once again I’m on bud watch. Presently five strong buds are developing and two have reached between 8 and 8.5 inches this morning. The flower is calling me back to basics amid yet another time of uncertainty. There is beauty to be sought, to await even when there are difficulties, challenges ahead. For a few moments each day as I follow this blossoming, I’ll declare my independence from worry and anxiety, and dwell for a time in the spell of the flower. Stay tuned for news of botanical fireworks coming soon.

 

Posted July 4, 2012 by Canio's in Uncategorized

Life of the party   Leave a comment

While Blanca winters in the greenhouse, gorgeous photographs of her summer blossoms are on view here in the bookshop. Last Saturday we had a holiday open house and reception for the photographer, Kathryn Szoka. What a knock out! The photos, that is! Huge spectacular images with titles like “Full Moon,” “White Nights” (an homage to Emily Dickinson), and my personal favorite, “Dishabille”, because, well, you know…The photographs so moved viewers that several sold, including the piece de resistance, “Full Moon” set in an exquisite silvery- gold molded frame, its thin rib pattern echoing the delicate legs of the stigma in the heart of the blossom. The many faces of Blanca seemed endless fascinating, especially on a dark winter’s night. Their beauty as portrayed by Kathryn Szoka seemed to lift many a heart.

For me, it was also the stories: one woman has been caring for a plant some 40 years old. It belonged to her father. She described the earthen foyer of a friend’s house replete with a blooming bougainvillea and orchids planted into a flower bed around an in-ground pond! Another woman showed me a photo on her Iphone of a young woman’s calf tattooed with a blossom somewhere between the lotus and the cereus. A friend suggested a novel, Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo, a strange story set in the Caribbean about a mad woman and a male nurse. I’ll be sampling it this winter.

Word had spread about the night-bloomer photographs. Folks arrived from far and wide out to take a look, to tell their stories, and to be in company with other admirers of the Queen of the Night.  And perhaps, to bask in her gaze. The Star of Bethlehem does shine!

Posted December 21, 2010 by Canio's in Uncategorized, winter

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.

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

Don’t miss the party!   1 comment

What else to do on a cold winter’s night than meet with friends, share some cheer, and gaze fondly at beautiful photographs of our lovely Bethlehem Lily taken by Kathryn Szoka? You’re invited to the “Unveiling of the Night Bloomer” our winter solstice holiday open house. Join us at a reception for the photographer whose botanical pictures will be on view in Canio’s Gallery. Wouldn’t one make a perfect holiday gift? See you Saturday, December 18 between 5 and 7 p.m. at Canio’s , 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor. Wouldn’t it be nice to wear some winter white?

Posted November 27, 2010 by Canio's in Uncategorized

Separation Anxiety   1 comment

Yesterday we transported the “tropicals” to our friend’s greenhouse in East Hampton. It was a bright sunny day,warmish, so that helped. But still,  it’s not a day I relish, sending the plants away to their winter home. They live at the greenhouse seven months of the year, longer than they do with me! Once last winter, late in the season, I went to visit them in their fancy glass home where they are all very well cared for.  I’m lucky for the friendship of a master gardener who lets me “board” my plants,but, well, I tend to miss them !

We fit Blanca into the cab of Kat’s red truck, along with one of the nutmeg geraniums (actually a pelargonium if anyone’s checking). I wedged the rest in the flat bed, some laying horizontal, and tied a huge blue tarp over the haul. The two gardenias, the jasmine vine and the passion vine, ten pots all tolled, set for their season of dormancy. Away we drove, tarp flapping like a giant blue flag to where? The Underworld , where Persephone lives half the year.

Our friend sent us home with a bouquet of huge autumn- colored dahlias, deep reds, orange , yellow and paler shades in between. They sit like an ecstatic Van Gogh still life on the coffee table, the solace of flowers! The sun set with extra drama last night, firing up the sky with fuchsia clouds after the golden orb dropped below the horizon.  Autumn, the season of flaring out, signaling change. Back in the garage, propped a cutting to dry a bit before potting it up to  propagate yet more plants. Already she putting out various new shoots, small tips, yes, but strong ones, heading into the future.

Posted October 21, 2010 by Canio's in autumn, 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

On Smell   Leave a comment

One of the unusual, if minor, aspects of Dorothy Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness is that she includes early on, scent memories.  It may seem like a small detail in light of the book’s main subject —  her coming to consciousness as a Catholic and social activist. Still the fact that she mentions  smells at all  signals to me an extraordinary individual, one acutely aware of her surroundings.  Perhaps it is through her heightened sense of perception that she came to conversion.  Dorothy Day remembers the odor of a friend’s house in Oakland that smelled of fresh shingles, an odd scent for a child to remember.  Later, after the great earthquake, the family moved into an apartment in Chicago. Young Dorothy was eager for some contact with nature. She remembers the scent of the sweet clover that fringed the cement-paved yard that was her playground. She gathered bunches of it to dry and stuff in pillows.  She remembers the smell of fresh popped popcorn watching from behind a window a sidewalk vendor pour butter and shake salt over the hot kernels. When her father’s job improved and the family could afford to move into  a house, Day describes it thus: “To draw the curtains at night on a street where people bent against the wind, and where a steady whirl of snowflakes blurred the outlines of trees and shrubs, and made the trees black against the heavy gray sky, and to turn to a room where a fire glowed in the basket grate and a smell of fresh bread filled the house–this was comfort, security, peace, community.”

For most, our sense of smell is the weakest way we perceive the world. Friends react differently to the power of the odor Blanca emits in her late night effort to attract whatever it is that will pollinate her. Some can’t smell it at all. Others choke on the heavy pollen dust they inhale. If I noted that the fragrance she issues into dark night  is comprised of  benzyl salicylate, would that bring you any closer to enjoying that musky sweetness? To say it smells like a combination of gardenia, jasmine and Casablanca lilies is only  a rough approximation.  It’s a heavy scent that lingers in the nose even after I’ve walked away from her. Sometimes I can almost taste it. Once I  thought I smelled it the next day, long after her blossoms had closed and she sat quietly, flowers hanging like curtain tassels, bedraggled. The memory of a party stirred up by the sight of your dress hung limp over a bedroom chair?
Carol saw some  cereus-scented products for sale on line. Bath salts. Perfumes.  Candles. Would we really want to be doused in such a fragrance? Perhaps  if your name were Cleopatra, or Aphrodite. But for the rest of us, it might be a bit much. Turned out these products were fashioned after another type of blooming cactus native to the hot deserts of Arizona. The fragrance creator had “memorized” the scent of the flower. Astounding! He could reproduce the scent without using the actual flower.

An unexpected bonus this season: the tropical rains that showered us, remnants of Hurricane Earl brought a late season drink to the many parched plants in the garden. One result, a hosta I’d wanted to do away with but didn’t, sprouted a long-stemmed lovely white blossom. When I bent near it to retrieve a pot that had blown off the deck railing, I was stunned by her elegant fragrance, one I’d never noticed before. Oh no!! How to describe this one? Lighter, younger than Blanca’s; a girl to her womanly ways. Something like lily-of-the-valley, fresh and watery. And I don’t even know her name. Fragrant hostas, anyone?

Posted September 14, 2010 by Canio's in environment, gardening, Uncategorized

On Beauty   1 comment

If as Simone Weil has described, attention to beauty can be a form of prayer, I’d say I’ve been doing a lot of praying this summer…watching Blanca bloom, gazing at the widening white blossoms, as they slowly, slowly grow like a small moon over days and nights waxing.

Once they have opened fully, I am caught in an intricate and elaborate net of petals. There comes a time of night after the party when the guests have left. It’s likely past midnight and I’m probably a little tired, have had a bit of bubbly, and rest in the  quiet. Just me and the flower and I don’t want to leave off looking. I know it will be a long while before I am lucky enough to see this again. I am caught, or rather left in the deep silence with nothing but the flower. Darkness increases, the flower  increases and this is all and everything.

Today it is bright and beautiful, a clear blue sky, just like the morning of September 11, 2001, that day of rage and horror and loss. This 9/11 let’s gaze at something enormously beautiful, something larger than that awful pit at Ground Zero, and let’s listen to something more beautiful than the ravings of the mad. And remember we’re part of something bigger and vastly more beautiful, maybe as close as the nearest leaf or blade of grass, or as distant as an infinitesimally tiny speck of star.

Posted September 11, 2010 by Canio's in Uncategorized

Pachamamas Preserving Blanca’s home   Leave a comment

With a little piece of the rain forest, Blanca, a resident of the tropics, currently living in my backyard here in the temperate zone of the mid-Atlantic states, eastern end of Long Island, I feel called to consider what it means that this particular plant, one small tendril on a long and curvaceous inter-connected ecosystem has been plucked and transported so far north. What’s it like back home?What is my broader responsibility in nurturing Blanca?

We know the rain forests are in jeopardy. Considering the rampant environmental destruction taking place worldwide, I want to do one small thing to help protect Blanca’s home. There’s an upcoming symposium at the U.U. congregation in Bridgehampton: Awakening the Dreamer/Changing the Dream. It’s an afternoon’s presentation, Sunday, October 3,  about how to live a more sustainable, spiritual and equitable life. The symposium is a program of the Pachamama Alliance, a group dedicated to preserving tropical rain forests around the world by empowering indigenous people and to creating a new global vision of equity and sustainability for all . I want to support them, and I will attend the symposium.  For the privilege of having a small piece of that rain forest right here in Sag Harbor. For the sake of my dear nieces and nephew. And because it’s a moral obligation to do so. Learn more at these links: http://pachamama.org/  and http://awakeningthedreamer.org/symposium/1870/

Posted September 10, 2010 by Canio's in environment, Uncategorized