Butterflies

 

IMG_1053 (2).JPG

Butterflies

“Why did the butterfly flutter by?”
“Because she saw the dragonfly drink the flagon dry.”
That’s all you need to know about our raison d’être, our reason for being here, the meaning of life. Unless, like Bertrand Russell, The Meaning of Meaning, you think a cat is a dog or you know why “the beach wet” or how many turtles there are, on the way down.

IMG_1060 (2).JPG

So many butterflies have visited us recently. We think the hollyhocks may have attracted them. But they seem to prefer the cone flowers.  And the bees’ balm remains virtually without visitors.

IMG_1052 (2).JPG
What exactly are these blessings that descend upon us? I don’t know. I have never seen this one before. A black swallowtail, according to my searches. But this is the first time we have seen one, let alone catch one on camera.

IMG_1043 (2).JPG

According to my research, shallow at best, these Admirals mimic the Monarch Butterflies which taste so bitter that predators will not touch them. True or False (T / F): a multiple choice question that I cannot answer, for I have no personal or scientific knowledge, just opinions found on the web.

IMG_1041 (2).JPG

What I do know, from personal experience, is that our little patch of garden is blessed by the presence of butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. We live in a treasure-house, pleasure-house of Nature. Long may it continue.

img_0189

 

Carousel

Carousel

carousel.png

Around and around a roundabout! I love it when the painted wooden horses open their mouths and rock up and down, and the little children hold out their hands to watching parents and grandparents, and big sisters and brothers hold them tight and keep them from falling off and the world passes by in a blur and open mouths are black holes in faces sucking the carousel in as it spins past in triumph.

And never forget the dodgem cars, weaving in and out, never dodging anything, but jousting like armor-clad knights of old, bumper to bumper, and ready, steady, charge! Or the old swing boats, twin-roped, non-mechanical, lifting us up to the skies and dropping us back to earth with that stomach-churning fall from stardom to the loss of innocence as the wooden break grinds, our thruppence is spent, and the ride is over.

Those days are as forgotten as one a penny, two a penny, or the tuppenny loaves that the elephants dropped, or the sing a song of sixpence where the twenty-four blackbirds descended like clothes pegs to devour the bread and honey and peck off the nose of the open-eyed innocent who never tired of the joke until the ultimate childhood squeal as his or her freckled or un-freckled nose was pinched and stolen away. So much lost, so much forgotten.

For two weeks now I have tried to photograph the hummingbirds, colibris, who visit the hollyhocks. Tonight, after a hundred or more photos, I managed to catch one in the fish-net of the camera. What joy: success after days and days searching for that delicate flash of red and green, only to find nothing there. Oh hummingbirds, I weep to see you, to capture you in the camera’s eye, to preserve you … for such a short, brief, moment of time.

IMG_1033 (2).JPG

Tall Hollyhocks

IMG_1006 (2).JPG

Tall Hollyhocks

Well, it isn’t quite an English Country Garden, but we now have some tall hollyhocks, and I mean TALL holly hocks. My beloved isn’t short, in fact she’s taller than me, but these hollyhocks are HUGE. Douglas Bader and Reach for the Sky are in a similar league.

IMG_1003 (2).JPG

Six, foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch … I guess that was a week or two ago. Looks like an eight foot, nine foot, ten foot bunch to me right now. Maybe I should write the Hollyhock Boat song. I’d need to get someone else to sing it for me though. Somehow, this is my Island View in the Sun, doesn’t quite cut it for me. And I hope I don’t have to cut them. Not until the snow flies start breeding anyway. And that makes me wonder: has anyone ever actually seen a snow fly? I know I haven’t. But then, I’m just an ignorant immigrant. I am happy to admit it. That way, nobody can discriminate against me.

IMG_1004 (2).JPG

The snow flies? They went that way. This way, that way, all ways lead to the Hollyhocks in Island View. And they are so beautiful. Even painters want to paint them.

20180916_182952_HDR-1_resized

Oops, sorry: that was last year’s. And so was this painting: last year’s hollyhock preserved for ever. Well, I am not so sure about that anymore, either. But well done Geoff Slater. And many, many thanks.

IMG_0206

 

By Any Other Name

IMG_0296

By Any Other Name
hortus conclusus
(1430-1432 AD)

don’t let them know
your origins your secrets
hide who and what you are
unholy ghosts will prowl
wild dogs will howl

sister-spouse
a garden enclosed
walled behind whose house
anonymous flowers
roses in abundance
set amongst thorns

sealed-up this fountain now
its well run dry
dead leaves in the bowl
shrunken petals
echoes of children’s voices
their faces hidden
among last year’s leaves

IMG_0617.JPG

Poinsettia

img0137_1

 

Poinsettia

     You can sense it, you can feel it, the alert spirit that guards this room. Walk in there at your peril. No, don’t. Just stand at the door and observe the poinsettia. You bought her a real one, a year ago, but she forgot to water it and when you visited, leaves and flowers, had crisped and dried, withered and perished. You even found cigarette butts stubbed into the pot’s powdery earth. You bought her another one, this time an ever-lasting, artificial flower, scarlet blossoms of silk with yellow-dotted plastic beads. Today a feather-duster breeze cleanses and enriches the leaves, replenishing their faded splendor. Motes rise, their dancing angels of dust hovering, suspended in a sunbeam that picks out their supple luxury. Their fiery tongues cry out to you from their green plastic pot in this empty room. The plant throbs with a startling vibrancy in this early morning light that enlivens piano keys, table top, and the polished, wooden chair arms you cleaned yesterday.  The poinsettias seem to wring butterfly hands as they gently flap in the breeze from the open window where thin lace curtains twitch, shaping the sunlight into light and shade. Her ash tray sits by the radiogram and awaits her return. That last cigarette, lipstick staining the filter, stubbed out and cold, waits for a companion. Later today, you will go to the hospital and visit her. You do not want to enter this room for its guardian spirit demands solitude and silence. You do not wish to create a disturbance, yet something moves you, and you walk over to her flower. A film of grey cigarette dust rises once more from the silk poinsettia, disintegrates, and dances before you. You bend your head to the silken surface and feel dry leaves brush their butterfly kiss across your cheek as you breathe in the ashen smell of stale tobacco.

Butterfly

 

img_0160

Butterfly 

     Un-mown the front garden, the grass long. Like hay, no flowers in the borders, how could there be when nobody can bend down to plant them? They want me to mow the lawn, but I can’t. I call a man who has an industrial mower, a hay-maker, and he comes and does the job, front and back, within half an hour. Even with a scythe, it would have taken me a couple of days.

The magnolia tree leans low across the red-brick wall that separates the house from the street. White butterflies, its petals, blown on the wind, and its perfume regaling our noses of the waft of the wind. We leave the ground floor windows open during the daylight hours so we can take in the thick, rich, delicate scent.

     Pale and delicate, a cabbage white butterfly floats into our yard from the road. The roses are not yet in bloom, more thorn than rose. A sudden gust blows the butterfly across the garden and it shreds its snow-white wing upon a thorn: sudden shriek of white against wall and grass.

     Looking back, remembering  how I cast her ashes over the sea, thoughts pound in my head like waves on that Gower beach. Each word is a grinding of small pebbles. Mother, you are a swift river of blood contained within my skin and bones.

Love me

IMG_0290.JPG

Love me …  love my cat. I think she’s bemused by the sudden smell of all those flowers. She didn’t like the snow yesterday, either. Hands up all those who did. Ah yes, all the students and teachers who had their tenth snow day. No wonder the internet was so crowded all day long. It wasn’t that easy to get on and off but it was so easy to lose the connections. Speaking of connections, yet another circular debate is going round and round the Brexit roundabout in London today. That’s London, England, not London, Ontario. Oh the sea, oh the sea, thank God it still flows between Brexit and me. You’ve got to love it though, especially on St. Valentine’s Day: all those basket cases putting all their eggs into one little Brexit basket. They remind me of a set of Oaxacan donkeys, blinkered and blindfolded, walking round all day in circles, trying to grind the maguey or to draw water from an artesian well (una noria). It’s a thankless task at the best of times, but an incredibly tiring one when there’s a drought and a dearth of clear-thinking and intelligence. Round and round and round they goes, and when they’ll stop, nobody knows. Wow, I’m glad I got that off my chest: now I can enjoy Valentine’s Day with my beloved and my cat. As for Valentine’s Day: say it with flowers.

IMG_0294.JPG

Here are the geranium, a little bit winter-struck, still red-hearted and perky in the post-storm sunshine. I always marvel at how they  settle down, go all green-leafed, then start to blossom again: a miracle of love and kindhearted attention.

IMG_0296.JPG

And here’s Don Quixote keeping vigil just behind the carnations. Oh Brexiteers, he stands on guard for thee. He’s very quiet though. Not sure about anything, except the need to guard the flowers from fear, fire, and foe. He’s a good man, is Alonso Quijano el Bueno. He doesn’t round round in circles and lose sleep over uncounted and uncountable, slaughtered sheep. Speaking of which, the Welsh are campaigning for Welsh Lamb. They do not wish their products to be labelled with the Union Jack, but with the Red Dragon of Wales, Y Draigg Coch Cymraig. I hope I’ve got that right: it’s been so long. Meanwhile, speaking of love, Northern Ireland is talking divorce from the UK and a renewed marriage with the south. Scotland is talking love-talk with the Europeans and muttering about separation (was it really 1606?) from the Union. And Plaid Cymru is once again flexing it’s separation muscles. For how much longer, in the current state of division, will we be able to talk of a United Kingdom? Valentine’s Day: it’s best to be off with the old love before you are on with the new. Yet there’s mucho flirting going on between many possible future partners, even while undying love is being spouted across the various negotiating tables. The Queen of Hearts rules on Valentine’s Day: “Off with their heads!” Oh dear, whatever will the little caterpillar say, let alone Malice in Blunderland?

And the cat came back. Thank heavens. I cannot imagine Valentine’s Day without some flowers, my beloved, the cat, and a great deal of love and understanding. May the joys of red flowers and open hearts (not the surgical kind) be with you this day, and may you find a ray of sunshine to sit in for the rest of what still promises to be a stormy and snow-filled winter.

IMG_0293.JPG