Thursday, June 12, 2014

PEONY – An Explosion of Wonder

My grandfather on my mother's side taught me a lot about Nature. Some of it he showed me—like how to flood night crawlers out of the lawn for fishing bait. Other things he just let me learn for myself.

Like most German immigrants of that generation, he believed that kids, once given the basic necessities of love, health and safety, should pretty much entertain themselves. So I spent lots of time just hanging out in their back yard and garden, exploring, playing with whatever gifts Nature provided that day.

      The petals lifted and spread, revealing 
      an explosion of golden stamens inside.

PHOTO: Tim McCormack
One of my favorite discoveries was the peony bush just outside the back door. The first thing I noticed was the succulent, sensual flower buds. The hard spheres with their tightly-wrapped petals-to-be reminded me of the way Grandpa's cigars were wrapped, in thin phyllo layers.

Each bud glistened with a sticky nectar, which explained why there were always ants on them. They didn't seem to hurt the bush and, in fact, may have protected it from other invaders or helped in some way to stimulate its flowering.

That unfurling was a glorious sight. Not quite fast enough to see their movement, the petals lifted and spread, revealing an explosion of golden stamens inside.

Form, line, color, texture, touch...and fragrance, unforgettable!

What is your favorite peony memory?


jean said...

I just love them and how they smell! :) I also have a night crawler story from my childhood. My dad loved to fish and so did a neighbor. So, back in the day when you could do things like this without getting arrested, my dad and his friend would go up the Univesity of Va Lawn after dark with high powered flash lights and collect the night crawlers that would come out of the ground toward the light. We have a yard full of huge worms to this day because Dad turned the night crawlers loose in our yard (the neighbor actually made a big, coffin-sized worm bed in his back yard, and those guys are still there doing their thing in the yard even though the worm box disintegrated many years ago. I am always glad to have all those big fat worms when I have a garden :)

Jeffrey Willius said...

Thanks, Jean. Such wonderful memories of "worming!" There's definitely something a bit mystical about it, don't you think?

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