Floral Filigree

Not rain but dew gave this fading neighborhood rain lily (Zephyranthes chlorosolen) its unusual appearance.

I’ve often shown the brilliant white petals and sepals of these flowers in full bloom. While both can be tinged with pink, and while it isn’t unusual for the flowers to become a darker pink as they fade, in this instance the color suffused the entire flower in a way that seemed unusual.

Even more remarkably, the transparency created by the dewdrops and the patterns that emerged because of them reminded me of the finely-drawn gold filigree work that typifies much West African jewelry.

They also reminded me of this favorite poem from W.S. Merwin, who understood that not all jewels can be found in a shop.

Now in the blessed days of more and less
when the news about time is that each day
there is less of it I know none of that
as I walk out through the early garden
only the day and I are here with no
before or after and the dew looks up
without a number or a present age
                                 “Dew Light” ~ W.S. Merwin

 

Comments always are welcome.

Budding Blue, Blooming Blue

more quiet than dawn
faint ripples of lavender
summer’s sweet ending

 

silent explosion
splitting the green-starred darkness
a whiff of blue scent

 

Comments always are welcome.
A Texas native, the blue water lily (Nymphaea elegans) blooms in spring and summer. These were found at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge on September 5.

To A Sunflower

A hint of autumn ~ Maximilian Sunflower

When I discovered the first Maximilian sunflowers of the season — a sure sign of autumn despite our current heat and humidity — my first thought echoed the first line of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “To a Skylark.”  I had fun adapting some stanzas for the flowers; you can read the original poem here.

Hail to thee, blithe Flower!
Weed thou never wert
That from Heaven, or near it,
Shinest thy full rays
In spreading gleams of unpremeditated art.
A continuation of summer ~ Common Sunflower
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a blaze of fire;
The blue sky thou seekest,
And seeking still dost grow, and growing ever singest.
Maximilian sunflower with Black-eyed Susans
In the golden lightning
Of the sinking sun,
O’er which clouds are bright’ning,
Thou dost bloom and run;
Like unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Pond Lights

 

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe
their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—
the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch
only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek
half nibbled away—
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.
Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking
into the white fire of a great mystery.

I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.
                                                                  “The Pond” ~ Mary Oliver

 

Comments always are welcome.
The water lilies, Nymphaea elegans, were photographed at various ponds in Brazoria County.

The Snail Formerly Known as Slug

A West End Snail ~ Galveston Island

Willam Cowper, born on November 26, 1731, in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, nearly is forgotten today.  A close friend of Evangelical clergyman John Newton, he co-authored the Olney Hymns: a collection first published in 1779 which included Newton’s famous hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Cowper led a complicated, melancholy, and occasionally amusing life. At one point, an intense, though platonic, relationship with Lady Anne Austen, the widow of a baronet, led to his major work. Lady Austen complained to Cowper that his writing was unfocused, and encouraged him to write about the sofa in his parlor. Cowper took up the challenge, and his work entitled The Task — which begins as a mock-heroic account of a wooden stool developing into a sofa — expanded to fill six books.

A translator as well as a writer, Cowper applied himself to Vincent Bourne’s poem “Limax” in 1799. For reasons known only to himself, Bourne, a neo-Latin poet, had chosen to celebrate the Limax —  a genus of air-breathing land slugs — in Latin verse. By the time Cowper finished his translation, Bourne’s slug had become a snail, and his poem had been transformed into a lovely and realistic celebration of a snail’s life.

To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall,
The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall,
As if he grew there, house and all
                                                Together.
Within that house secure he hides,
When danger imminent betides
Of storm, or other harm besides
                                                Of weather.
Give but his horns the slightest touch,
His self-collecting power is such,
He shrinks into his house, with much
                                                Displeasure.
Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone,
Except himself has chattels none,
Well satisfied to be his own
                                                Whole treasure.
Thus, hermit-like, his life he leads,
Nor partner of his banquet needs,
And if he meets one, only feeds
                                                The faster.
Who seeks him must be worse than blind,
(He and his house are so combin’d)
If, finding it, he fails to find
                                                Its master.

 

Comments always are welcome.