Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tiptoeing Through the Dahlias

Where to start? 
I've been off visiting in the Northwest and my head is so crowded with images and ideas I'm frozen into inaction. Since I was recently blogging about butterflies, maybe I should get the ball rolling, or unfreeze my brain, by posting another butterfly photo, taken while watering in the garden this morning. He's not as dramatic as the others but his name is very apt --- he's the one most like a pat of butter. If you click to "embiggen" (thanks for that Elephant's Child!) you can see his delicate sippy straw inserted in the flower.
" The summer's gone and all the flowers are dying," the butterflies know their days are numbered so they're flitting frenetically. I'm not a chest-pounding, butterbox-climbing religious zealot but I don't need much more than butterflies, bugs, and flowers, trees and birds to convince me God's in his heaven and there's still a lot right with the world.

On my first weekend in the Northwest we went to a dahlia farm. There, more than here, summer's on the fast track to becoming a distant memory. The flowers were past their prime but still the fields were ablaze with color. I once planted a dahlia, encouraged by a friend's success. Nothing happened. I kept looking for little green shoots and kept not finding them. And recently discovered that our California Girl is a dahlia enthusiast. You could call me one too....the difference between us being that she can actually grow them while I kill them (albeit unintentionally) in infancy. Sigh. My mother had a beautiful flower bed that ran the length of our garden. She'd be so proud of her grandchildren, all of whom, unlike her daughter, can nurture green, leafy things.

It reminded me of growing up, when mother would send me off on my bike to get flowers from the gardens of a grand house nearby. She was on friendly terms with the gardener there. He'd been the hospital gardener when she was nursing and had helped her set up her own flower border. Unfortunately, that little acre of heaven exists only in my memory now. It was long ago paved over and covered with houses. But back then mum always had a vase of fresh flowers on the hall table. I hope she has fields like these in heaven!

As you can see, the bees were busy too at summer's end in the Northwest.

Each variety of dahlia seemed more beautiful than the last but, if I had to pick my overall favourite it would be this....

If forced to choose, I'd say blue was my favourite colour, but when it comes to flowers my heart belongs to the pinks and burgundies.

And though I'm not usually a fan of orange, this baby could almost change my mind!

Another memory stirred by this visit to the dahlia fields was of visiting the tulip fields in Keukenhof, Holland when we lived in Belgium --- Oh my!

Our knowledge of Dutch was minimal but flowers need no words, just appreciative eyes.
No wonder tongue-tied lovers resort to bouquets to do their talking...

Doesn't this pink stir vague memories in your brain of Fibonacci numbers? I'd never heard of them until youngest son learned about them in science class. I was blown away! Proof that you're never too old to learn something new, or a new way of seeing familiar things, such as flowers, that you've been looking at all your life. I checked on Google though and found that Fibonacci numbers don't apply to dahlias. Someone (very dedicated!) took a dahlia apart to count the petals and they were not in the Fibonacci  sequence. But sunflowers are, if you want to take a look...

By the time we headed home our brains were saturated with colour...

....our senses overloaded....

...and we couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day!

Monday, October 03, 2016

The Butterfly and the Plumber's Assistant

 Asking me to go to Home Depot is akin to asking the OC to go and buy me some thread in a Quilt shop. I'll go if I absolutely have to, if all the lightbulbs in the house have burned out, or I need batteries, or we're pricing new washing machines. But, as a place to go and browse? For pleasure? Low on the list. In fact,  close to the bottom.

But occasionally I find myself in a hostage situation. We'll have gone out for a seemingly innocent errand and suddenly, mar dhea, he remembers something he urgently needs from the big box store. It's too far and too hot to walk home, so I try to remember to bring a book along, just in case.

Saturday he lured me into it. He was in handyman mode, installing a new sink in the laundry room so he needed plumbing supplies. Since I'll be the one benefitting I wasn't exactly in a good position to argue.

He assured me it would be a quick stop and why don't I go to the garden section and select some house plants to replace the two I had recently murdered, oh and get a cart. The garden section is the one redeeming thing about HD. The OC can cruise up and down the aisles, pausing and rubbing his chin over these screws or those nuts, or the other bolts, while my knees begin to buckle and my pulse slows and I think if he doesn't get on with it I'm going to collapse right there on the cement floor from the boredom of it all.. And God forbid we shouln't stop to drool over the latest, ridiculously large and complicated barbeques. For all the wild and crazy parties we throw in our back garden, don't you know.

Off he went to Plumbing and me to Garden. I weighed the benefits of one house plant after another. Looking for those that thrive on neglect. This one needs low light, this one bright; this one needs to dry out between waterings, this one likes to keep its toes damp; this one is pretty, this one looks like a weed ..... Hmm. Decisions made, I meandered over to the flower section, ablaze with red pentas and purple somethings and lots and lots of yellow. And what should flutter past my eyes but the most amazing, huge butterfly!  With a wingspan as wide as both of my hands. Oh joy! I set down my plants, got out my phone and gave chase.  And this was my reward --- culled later from the forty eight shots I took --- yes. Forty eight. And yes, I did get some strange looks and yes, if I'd stuck around longer they might have summoned the men in white coats --- but what's the matter with everyone? Not only should we take time to smell the flowers but we should also take time to notice things of staggering beauty fluttering right past our noses instead of head down, shuffling along, oblivious.

Suddenly I remembered the OC and turned to look for him only to find him standing right behind me, arms laden with plumbing supplies, rolling his eyes and wondering where the cart was. Chasing butterflies, getting a cart --- which would you choose? Happy with my forty eight I dutifully went and got a cart.

Note: The largest photo is the one I chased that day. The others are butterflies I "caught" at various times over the summer.