A Slow Rising

American Lotus ~ Nelumbo lutea
Brazos Bend State Park
“Be a lotus in the pond,” she said, “opening
slowly, no single energy tugging
against another but peacefully,
all together.”
I couldn’t even touch my toes.
“Feel your quadriceps stretching?” she asked.
Well, something was certainly stretching.
Standing impressively upright, she
raised one leg and placed it against
the other, then lifted her arms and
shook her hands like leaves. “Be a tree,” she said.
I lay on the floor, exhausted.
But to be a lotus in the pond —
opening slowly, and very slowly rising —
that I could do.
                                  “First Yoga Lesson” ~ Mary Oliver

Comments always are welcome.

Sad Leaf, Happy Leaf

Only two living species of the Lotus family, the Nelumbonaceae, are recognized today.  The Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is widespread in Asia; both Buddha and various Hindu deities often are depicted sitting on its pink or white flowers. Associated with purity and beauty because of the contrast between its flower and the muddy source of its life, this lotus is far more than a symbol: parts of the flower are used for offerings at shrines, as decoration, and in cooking.

The North American lotus, Nelumbo lutea, produces yellow flowers rather than pink or white, but it shares large, striking leaves with its Asian counterpart. As much as two to three feet in diameter, they lie flat upon the water, or rise several feet into the air.

In truth, the leaves interest me as much as the flower. As they fade away, they bend toward the water, assuming shapes as individual as the clouds floating above them. When I discovered this one, I couldn’t help but think of Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake, and the various Arthurian legends.

The Lady of the Lake

Not all lotus leaves are so poetic, but as a group they are interesting. While lacking the slits that allow water lily leaves to drain, lotus leaves are covered with nanostructures coated with a hydrophobic wax, allowing water droplets that fall onto them to bead up and roll off the leaf. As they roll, the droplets pick up bits of dirt and debris, making the leaves essentially self-cleaning.

Of course, water can collect even on lotus leaves: often in ways that evoke human associations. When I found this ‘smiley face’ floating in Brazos Bend’s Elm Lake, I wished I could introduce it to the Lady of the Lake. It might have cheered her up.

The Optimist


Comments always are welcome.

White Delights ~ Blue-Eyed Grass

 

Members of the Iridaceae, or iris family, at least seven species of Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) can be found in Texas. Growing from hardy rhizomes, the plants produce a slender, blade-like foliage that resembles grass, giving the plants their common name. 

These early spring flowers generally bloom in various shades of blue, purple, or rose, but white variants occasionally appear. On the same day that I discovered a few unusual white spiderworts in a local vacant lot, I spotted this white version of blue-eyed grass tucked in among them.

The curved peduncle and upright flower brought to mind an Art Nouveau wall sconce; the fact that blue-eyed grass is related to a variety of garden and other irises reminded me of this, from poet Mary Oliver:

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence into which
another voice may speak.
 

Comments always are welcome.