By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, October 05 2007 - 2:11 pm
Murders of a Flower Child 2
Once upon a time there was a Prince. And I loved him. This was not so very long ago. I cooked his favorite meals, gave him back-rubs every night.
He thought he deserved to be a Prince, and I thought so too. The best went to him always. He got the first choice of cuts, always. And on our first Valentine’s Day together, I gave him the flowers – a big lively expensive and expansive bouquet!
Well, I did it light-heartedly. I really expected no positive response from it – I did it because I felt like it.
Self-indulgent of me, but there seemed to be no negative consequence to it. God knows he didn’t have the money to do the same for me, and I just love flowers! Maybe he was a little uncomfortable – the gesture was too extravagant. Maybe I should have given them to the paper-seller I passed on the way to the Prince’s house, who inquired if they were for him!
“Not this time!” I responded gaily, fully intending to someday get around to giving him a few flowers, only to brighten up his life a little.
Of course I never got around to it. A month later my love was living in my house and I rarely went past that corner again.
My Prince knew I loved flowers. He didn’t have the money for them, so he brought home fake ones.
Well, I have had a fake bouquet or two. Some of them are so well made you think that they are real until you get up close. But then – it is inevitable – when you find they aren’t alive you are disappointed. Well, (I should say) I am.
Until you get close there is always the hope of fragrance – another treat! Even if it is only the fragrance of the green leaves, that little whiff of the out-of-doors means life.
So a fake bouquet or two is okay, and enough.
Princeling, however, started ornamenting our house with fake flowers all the while his eyes started wandering elsewhere. It was as if he were trying to make up for the lack of real romance and love in our lives together by filling the house with flowers.
But they weren’t real. They were all form, no substance. Or scent. Or essence.
It began to feel cloying, hypocritical.
So I started bringing home real flowers.
Romantic ones, red roses from Ecuador.
The Prince liked them, of course. But it didn’t change the essential nature of our relationship. All the genuine feeling was going in one direction only, from me to him. And these foreign roses, bred for long-distance shipping and a long vase-life, had no aroma. Feeling a new absence in him, a lack of presence even in bed, my own feelings changed. I no longer loved him.
One day, when I was running his bath, I remembered the words of caution I had read in a book about flowers. Some roses from South America are dipped head-first, stem and all, in a fungicide to kill any botrytis or other organism that might mar their perfect blossoms. The grower said he would never put petals from these roses into a bath for his loved one. “Never!”
While the water ran, I went around the house, collecting fallen rose petals from my extravagant bouquets. I threw them into the water. He wasn’t here? Then let him really be gone!
The Prince loved his baths. He suspected nothing. I even added rose scent to the warm water, so his luxurious experience became complete.
Now his petal-strewn bath is a daily ritual. For a while I collected more and more petals from around the house. Then, at the height of my fury, I even took perfectly good blooms and tore them into his bathwater.
So far, he is still with me.
And, amazingly, his attitude seems to be changing. He is gentler, quicker with praise. He treats me more tenderly, even in bed.
Maybe it is guilt.
But maybe, just maybe, it is not!
Maybe I’ll have to start buying Oregon-grown, ravishingly scented organic roses! I’ll strew roses of every color into his water with new hope for our love.
And pray it is not too late!
Silence of the Lambs
This rule of silence is deadly. No one to talk to except God, and he never answers anyway. Oh, maybe nonverbally once in a while, but certainly nothing to write a Testament about.
Who ever heard of a nunnery in the nineties, anyway? How did my luck get so bad that I ended up here? I thought I had a repressive childhood, but that was nothing compared to this place!
How are you supposed to have any control over your own existence if you can't even complain to or communicate with anyone around you?
It is supposed to be so spiritual here. God controls our existence. But is that any response to the lack of complete control we have over our lives and universe? To go all the way to the other extreme and give up any control at all?
I must have thought so last year. Maybe I was still high on something when I gave up all my worldly goods and entered these portals.
Now I'm only being poisoned - by Sister Martha's carelessness in the kitchen. Twice a week, on the average, the rest of us come in or wake up to noxious fumes coming from the kitchen where she has let another pan boil dry and charred.
Thank goodness I usually breath the fresh clean air of the garden! My vegetables and flowers and the birds out there are my only consolation for the narrow life I lead inside. Hopefully being outside will help make up for the toxins I have been forced to inhale cleaning up after Martha.
At any rate, I won't subject my body and mind to these indignities much longer.
Silence is a killer, all right.
And one of these days my pot of greens will contain a mess of an herb whose smoke will carry the final silence for Martha and all her fellow-torturers - all those nun-entities that spitefully make each others' lives miserable and then protect their actions with a rule against speaking out.
On that day I will, purely coincidentally, be selling our excess produce and gorgeous bouquets at the local Farmers' Market. I just hope - I pray to God - that I can keep -
(I am sitting here writing in this miniscule notebook. Why did it appeal to me – the size? The thickness? (It is thick for the area it covers!) The red color?
Does the notebook cramp me, or did I choose it because I have become cramped and crabbed?)
Our family business is going – I don’t know where.
It was my mother and father who started this habit of hybridization.
(A bare introduction, and I’m already now, writing longhand, on my second page! (Maybe it is a way of feeling a sense of accomplishment without having done very much!))
Anyway, as I was saying, my parents started hybridizing and after a while nothing else mattered. The weeds could gather beneath the benches, the plastic pots could bake and crack in the sun. Who cared?
The only thing that mattered was that creative spark – that union of sperm and egg of the flower world that would spawn – what?
That was the eternal excitement – the eternal mystery!
It was as if my parents had become addicted to playing God, some sort of obsessed Diune god, and they had set up the perfect paradise for practicing their deity - greenhouses and lily fields!
In addition to flowers, our parents produced five daughters, who some would say are no less exotic than their floral productions! In a way we are floral productions!
Amaryllis, the eldest, is now the chief administrator and aesthetician. Our fearless, erect and glorious leader, whose bloom leaves her greens far below! It is she who has the trick of eye that earns her the final say over whether one of our creations is pronounced “good.” (Only of course, in the nursery business, “good” is never good enough. No, the selling words are “outstanding” “exceptional” “sucker-punch” and the like.)
Heather is good (I mean, fabulous!) at that stuff. The writing, the naming, the marketing, the selling! The outreach she produces in all verbal and social ways is stupendous! She even does workshops in the schools and the children love her. Like her namesakes, she covers the field!
Violet? The retiring sort, of course. She keeps the books green and tries to make us keep our heads. Ha!
Me, I’m Iris, and I laugh! I’m the rainbow goddess (a little bit of everything) and also the messenger of the Gods (the Diune Gods, at least!). The most random, the most changeable, I am the one who spends the most time in the green- and othercolorful greenhouses.
We have all the usuals, of course. The peonies and the petunias, the gerberas and the geraniums, daisies and delphineum. We grow ‘em, we sell ‘em.
But for me the heart, the breath, the soul, and the sex of our business are in hybridization. We (my husband and I) will try anything! Create anything! ( It is only through creating lots of stuff that we can come up with the beauty that will get the nod from Amaryllis!) Lilies, though, are our specialty and the source of our fame. And speaking of lilies brings me to Lily.
Ah, Lily! What are we going to do about Lily?
(I guess a word of explanation is in order here.)
I have only talked about the Flora but we all have husbands. Even the shrinking Violet found a mateable variety at some accounting convention or other. (Too many names kill momentum, in my experience, so I won’t give you all of hubbies’. They are of no floral interest, I assure you!) But the husbands are of interest to the business, and the business is interesting to them. There is always work to do around a greenhouse, and among all the sisters and husbands, there is something to interest everyone. There are so many of us, we need few additional employees. The days of weeds, whiteflies and cracked flowerpots bleaching in the sun are gone.
But Lily, ah, Lily! She has married a different breed of man altogether - a corporate man - and I don’t know what will become of us.
He has invaded our lives with what seems to me the desert wind of death
I don’t know why I didn’t realize it sooner. After our first tour of the greenhouses with this good-looking, charming man, the plants were looking a little peaked, a little off – even, perhaps, a little bit gray! I just attributed it to the heat and turned on the sprinklers.
But now I know he will kill them. Not physically. He will kill their souls. He will kill my way of working. He wants to control everything, everything, and that will kill me!
He's a hybridizer, all right. It takes one to know one. But the only potential in his eyes is dollar signs. He sees what is real, and to him it means only an entree to some kind of worldly game of wealth.
Lily - sweet, precious Lily - whose houseplants turn to her and lean towards her when she sits in a room, is not someone whose beauty he truly sees. And even if he did, it wouldn't be enough. Nothing would.
He’s getting in the way of my light. He’s getting between me and the sun!
Oh!. That puts me in mind of...
have you ever been in your garden, bending over weeding, and had something almost like Tinkerbell dust hit you? It had to happen to me a few times before I was sure it was not just a group of random teeny leafhoppers frightened by my presence!
No, really and truly, there is a weed that will pop its harmless seeds at you when you come between it and the sun! It's a propagation mechanism, I'm sure.
I have also seen seeds that possess a likeness to little tiny pointed spears! And everyone knows that some plants are poisonous!
I feel another hybridizing project coming on! The union of three characteristics. Introgressive hybridization at its deadliest!
The messenger of the Gods can not always be the bearer of good news!
And right about now, I’m feeling my own deity!
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