Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Excerpts for a New Book


At a conference with my creative writing teacher, I was told that I was the only writer he had ever known who could “get away with so many flowers.” I do because I romance them. I am not referring to the flowers in my garden: dahlias and roses to cut, flowers chosen for color and hardiness. I am referring to flowers I love for where and when they bloom. I am referring to flowers which scent is so complex that it stirs thought, feeling, memory.
The flowers that bloom in the spring are elegant - and fragile. Hardy summer bloomers are dazzling catchers of color. There are flowers that grow in arid places, and flowers that grow in the wetlands. There are flowers that I associate with times in my life. I romance them all, and I “get away with it.”
Hiking friends and I, in the attempt to shorten our descent from Darwin Canyon to Evolution Valley, decided to descend by zig-zagging, switchbacking; a presumed shortcut. The slope proved to be so steep that negotiating it was painstaking and painful. We dislodged rocks that had lain in repose for hundred, thousands of years. We crushed and ripped apart moss-like vegetation and spongy carpets of miniature flowers. We destroyed radiance in the form of penstamons and clovers and paintbrushes and shooting stars and lupines. We never dreamed that we would be tramping through gardens. (From the basin floor, the ridge looked like talus through which we could pick our way.) What appeared to be the debris from crumbling mountains were the randomly placed retaining rocks for spring-watered gardens, habitat for birds and rodentia, and flowers in abundance! The route was so hazardous that I was forced to appreciate the marvel of those gardens in retrospect – which I did, and do.
There are flowers that induce olfactory meditation – permit me. Scents that induce feeling, free of pesky thought. For Stu, it was lilac, and so I brought him lilac. For me, it is any flower which scent is wild, spicy, fruity, musky, and vaguely perfumed. It is a flower with a scent that is subtle and unique.
As a child, living in Southern California, I was in love with dramatic flowers: hydrangea, cana lillies, bouganvilla, jacaranda, naked ladies; exotics, except for California Poppies, which were favorites. But I also remember being impressed by the wild flowers that grew on the “skirts” of Mount Diablo. They grew in the grass: the yellow, coiled fiddleneck and the tiny, delicate Indian Pink – and the always present pea-like purple lupine. I sing of the many species of lupine: bushes of fragrant flowers growing in the dunes on the ocean, the diminutive species that grow high in the mountains on sandy flats, the lush “candles” of purple, blue, and yellow flowers that occur after a wild fire . . .
I write last of the hidden aspects of flowers: pistil, stamen, sepal; creation! What a stunning world is available with “power 10.” How intricate. How perfect. How complex. How lovely. How romantic.

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