The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Well, now I’m complaining about late cold.  Late last summer I was complaining about the heat and longing for a break in August, when we in this part of the world look so anxiously for any sign of a break in the heat and drought of summer.   But now, wouldn’t you know, when the northern third of the whole country is enduring blizzards and record amounts of snow, here I am grizzling about a possible light frost.

It’s just that we’ve had, just this past week, temps up to eighty degrees F (that’s 26.7 degrees celsius), and yesterday and today, 32 degrees F (that’s 0 degrees Celsius).  What we call roller-coaster weather, up and down and up and down, but the up-weather encourages one to move tender plants out, to want to plant and plant some more.  We even indulged me and brought a lemon tree home.  Oh how long, how many years I have wished for a lemon tree.  Now lemon trees are not hardy in this area because we do get freezes in the winter, so this lemon tree will live in a very large pot in the garden except for that point in time in the late fall when frosts often begin, at which time it will move into our enclosed garden room, not heated but shelter from possible frost, for the winter.  That lemon tree was quickly and happily installed in the garden and now the guys of the family will get to wrestle it in earlier than planned.   And I knew better, because having a frost just before the Eastertide is a long-established tradition in these parts.  And for the umpteenth time we’ll cover up the small pots and tender plants that are clustered next to the back door for shelter, because we’ve all gone along this far together, why stop now?

Now our local meteorologist actually stated, on television, this morning that after this last frost warning, we were done for the season.  Maybe we should hold him to that.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


The other day my favorite friend and sweetheart went to do some errands and on the way home spied a field of wild flower weeds that he knew I would like.  The small purple flowers which bloom everywhere they can this time of year, made a purple haze in a rare wild space along the road to our home.   So he told me about them when he got home, and next chance we were out and about, he took me by there to see them, only there wasn’t much to see from the direction we came, which was opposite to the direction he was going when he first saw them.  With no other traffic around, we slowly advanced, and as the perspective and the light changed, I looked back and saw them, and he was right, they were lovely, a hazy carpet of purple loveliness.   I don’t know what the plant is called, perhaps claytonia, which commonly blooms at this time of year.

So it occurred to me, that finding those flowers was a matter of light and perspective.  And it occurred to me, again, that this is true of more than just wild flower weeds.  For instance, I constantly fuss about weeds in the garden, particularly at this time of year when the little ‘weedus non-rareus’ as I call it, or henbit or wild lamium as the botanists call it, walks across the land, or rather runs and hops and skips, for it is everywhere.  Or there is the yellow oxalis, which is terribly difficult to pull out of the ground, unlike the ubiquitous henbit.  Or there is some sort of grass which pops up everywhere at this time of year, what I used to, as a child, call Easter grass, because it is so green in early spring, and makes just the right sort of clumps for hiding Easter eggs.   In my flower beds these plants are a nuisance because they want to occupy space that has been allotted to daffodils and hyacinths and tulips and daylilies and phlox and vegetables, all the ordinary but beloved plants that are much preferred to any weed.

And yet it also occurs to me that a lot of times we, myself included, lose our perspective and look at even the weeds in the wrong light.  Dandelions, they say, make tasty greens.  There is a type of wild purslane that is supposed to be lovely in salads.  There are in fact a number of wild plants that are quite edible and sought after by foragers.  And there is this one other thing about weeds that I must often remind myself about, for weeds, just as any green and growing plant, take in carbon dioxide which we humans emit in vast quantities, and in return exude out oxygen, you know, the stuff we breathe.  So even the weeds of the field are doing more to help our weary planet than are we.  Alas.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Well, it’s movie review time again for us.  Today we finally had the chance to see the wonderful film, ‘Quartet’, with a fabulous cast of mature British actors and a beautifully told story as well as a glorious English countryside setting.    As mature folks ourselves, it is always special when we encounter stories that reveal the fact that mature folks are just like everyone else (only, speaking just for ourselves, a bit stiff and weary now and then).  Mature folk are dealing with the same issues of relationships, communication, and figuring out how to go on with life that those younger ones do, and this film, based on a stage play by the same name, tells that with a bit of drama and quite a lot of humor and compassion.
The quartet in the title are four former opera singers who had performed together outstandingly many years before, had been estranged from one of the members for decades, and are finding themselves now dealing with age and many other challenges.  They are portrayed by Maggie Smith as Jean, Tom Courtenay as Reggie, Billy Connolly as Wilf, and Pauline Collins as Cissy and Michael Gambon does a star turn as the ‘director’ of the annual Verdi Gala.   Believe it or not, even with this cast Pauline Collins almost steals the film as a sweet soul quickly losing her grip on reality and doing that with grace and cheerfulness.

The story is about not just four, but also many more retired musicians, who still have the talents they had in decades gone by and still enjoy making music, although time has taken its usual toll.  The screenplay was written by the original playwright, and that no doubt explains the lovely dialogue and wonderful characters.  Another thing we appreciated about the film was that while it was honest in its depictions of the physical and mental dilemmas of the mature, it never made them seem stupid or foolish.  They were simply talented people who had spent their lives making music and wanted to continue to do so, well aware they were no longer in their prime and accepting that fact with all the grace they could muster.  It was lovely.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


In the March 4, 2013, issue of Time Magazine, in the Milestones segment, there is an obituary about a fellow named Ronald Dworkin, who died on February 14 at 81, and who is described as a legal philosopher.   Well, needless to say, that term fascinated me, and so did the entire entry.   Mr. Dworkin taught the law and wrote about it, and one of the things said about him was that he was “… a world-class scholar whose concept [was] that law had to be based as much on fundamental moral principles as on formal rules….”

Obviously this was an extraordinary man and obviously a brilliant one.  But what made the greatest impact on me was that somehow I had never thought of the law as anything other than a set of moral rules or principles and yet the implication in the obit was that this was a fairly unique point of view.  If I have understood correctly, and the majority of our laws are formal rules rather than rules based on moral principles, then the thought occurs that maybe our laws are more fallible than one would suppose.  Oh, we all know that there are many foolish laws on the books in towns and cities and states and in our federal government, but one always hopes that the foolish (and sometimes downright bad) laws are in the minority and furthermore imminently scheduled for revision or removal.  But if our core laws, the laws by which our entire society operates, are based on merely formal rules rather than our having enacted laws to support the fundamental moral principles of human decency to which we must hold, such as the rights of the individual, in order to even come close to being a civilized society, than perhaps that explains why we are going through so many upheavals in the basic fabric of our society. 

And while no sensible individual wants upheavals and divisions, perhaps that is what we will need in order to analyze and refine our laws to ‘preserve, protect, and defend”.  You know, so that we feed the hungry, protect the old and vulnerable, educate the young, encourage families, no matter what their description, take care of the structures of our country, take care of us.