Myself, I went to North Africa once, and that was enough–too many people pressing in on me all the time–not my idea of a fun afternoon. I was more interested in nymphs, orange blossoms and golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides.
Finding that garden though, has been one of those fun, but not really serious peccadillo challenges in my life. Good descriptions are hard to come by, what to speak of the garden itself. I’ve never found it. I’ve always come up empty. So this time, I figured since I was in the neighborhood–since I was in that hazy western Mediterranean–I figured I’d look for that garden again.
Everybody wants it; but can health, good health be seen?
I’m not talking about humans.
This is about plants. And it is not a discussion about the definition of beauty or the definition of good health.
It is rather about what our eyes can observe. See a beautiful plant. See a beautiful flower. We are accustomed to those.
But something happened to me the other day on a walk. Our local weather has been good: sunshine, warmth and deep gentle rains. Locally, one finds in many home gardens well maintained topsoil–mulched with animal manures and dug in every year.
What does that mean? Healthy plant growth. And even with very common plants, their health shines. It captured my attention recently. My photo shows that. I hope you can see it.
Unusual perceptions of plants and their flowers? That is what CJ experienced for the first time in my book, Tangier Gardens. If you like plants and their flowers you will like CJ’s story.
A long time ago–an embarassing number of years–more than you need to know, I worked at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston in the United States. Their specialization was woody plants.
They have four hundred named cultivars, varieties and species of lilac (Syringa). Each spring they have a massive public event that huge crowds attend–Lilac Sunday. The event timing varied as climate related events do. Early warm spring meant early lilacs could be mid-late April. Cold and a late spring meant late lilacs could be mid May.
So we watched carefully each year to determine accurately when would Lilac Sunday be.
All that crossed my mind as I was looking and enjoying lilac fragrance everywhere in my home town today. So if I was to call Lilac Sunday, I’d call it this week–Mother’s Day in the USA.
And the climate? A normal average year.
Go out and find a lilac. Enjoy the blooms and their fragrance. They go by rather quickly as May warms the earth.
CJ was coming of age and he was lost. He had wanted to get absorbed in a different culture. The labyrinth had captured him. In his despair he turned to his oldest friend, a girl with whom he had been growing for the past six years. And she became his strength. Though separated from CJ by thousands of miles, she lit his path to clarity.