For some reason, I cannot shake the fact that I have not bought daffodils this spring. Spring is over for the most part, and I did however buy peonies, sweet peas, roses, stock, lisianthus, ranunculus, and even lilac. These are all important to me yes, but who didn’t make the kindergarten pièce de résistance: the egg carton daffodil. Sometimes, mom and I call them daffodoodles. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing. But the Canadian women in my family know their flowers. Thank God, because I always did too, and now I am only one step away from gaining my Canadian citizenship. Therefore, by osmosis or Canuk Intervention, I too know my flowers.
This past summer, I took one of the greatest courses around. Not because of the literature, but because of Michael Armstrong. We studied Italo Calvino, a fantastical Italian writer from the 60s and 70s. I think truly, my literary lens changed after taking Michael’s course.One of Calvino’s novels, The Baron in the Trees is about a wealthy young man who is angry with his sister, climbs a tree, and swears he will never touch ground again. He never does.
I was fascinated with Cavino’s history relating to the Italian landscape and agrarian world. As a child, Calvino rejected his father’s horticultural tendencies. But The Baron in the Trees lists tree after shrub after bloom after fruit. And I became obsessed. I began cataloging each reference to flora and fauna, and decided to investigate their folkloric meaning. This was my final project for my Master’s in English. I used the most referenced flowers, and with my own humble artistic abilities, created my own folk tales based on my life and experiences and relationship with flowers.
People might not know that my mom was a florist. Perhaps she never worked in a bona fide floral shop and she always scowls when I say she is a florist, but she did and continues to create some of the most spectacular arrangements I have ever seen. I would come home from finals in college to fresh flowers in my room. Actually, even before that I had her beautiful roses on my dresser weekly. I miss that. I miss the roses.
So back to daffodils–one of the flowers not referenced in Calvino’s novel. One of the flowers vital to springtime in my family. In fact, my mom prides herself on her daffodils. Honestly, they are the cheapest flowers ever. And they really cheer up a room. People don’t know that you must trim the ends and put them in warmish water to allow them to open their heads and say hello.
The blue and white striped pitcher is one of my most prized possessions. It was my Gram’s. And when she asked me what I wanted for my 30th birthday, I pointed to the jug that held the Donald Duck orange juice she made from concentrate when my cousin and I would spend the night. She screwed up her nose and was surprised, making me believe it was rubbish. After finding out what it was and where it was from, I knew it needed to be mine. It’s called Cornish Blue from an English company out of obviously Cornwall, a place in which I spent a great amount of time. Her friend Elsie gave it to her years and years and years ago. She was glad to give it to me because she knew I would use it and love it. That’s how we roll in our family. Nothing is of much monetary value, but sentimentality rules. Perhaps that’s the nature of true Scotsmen–er–Scotswomen. I don’t know what she would think of me putting flowers into this pitcher now–either she or Auntie Elsie. But I simply can’t not.
At the market today I wanted to buy myself some flowers since I will be in town until June 9th. I couldn’t decide. The tulips weren’t quite right. The lilies are out of season (they do best in October) and the roses looked a little worn. So I walked away. How strange of me. Here I was yesterday in the most glorious Palo Alto backyard of my coworker, and his bleeding hearts and fuscia and snapdragons and roses antagonized me. Yet, I couldn’t buy any today.
Funny how flowers and summer and prettiness are peppered into the lyrics of today’s songs. I haven’t pulled out my pitcher recently. I saw it while putting my teapot away this morning. Perhaps I need to start using those items that possess my fingerprints.
(Oh) Pretty Woman–Van Halen
Garden Party–Ricky Nelson
All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints–Paul Simon
Charlie–Red Hot Chili Peppers