Shall we go?
Photo credits via: https://www.pinterest.com/abercrombie/istanbul/
Great, short clip.
My daughter and I stopped at the gas station yesterday for some Sunday afternoon treats. As she ran in, I sat in the car idly considering the strip of shaded yard behind the white concrete building. What else do you do waiting in a gas station parking lot but look around? It was a ‘nothing’ sort of space, a narrow fenced grassy stretch spiked with dandelions, stretching their heads toward the April sun. It seemed out of place beside the industrial asphalt, gas and air pumps; a space used only by relieved station attendants, escaping for a quick, mid shift smoke.
As I continued to stare and wonder about the oddly placed yard, it suddenly transformed, in that strange way where two realities merge into one. I was transported to my parent’s home on Lanark street in the early 60’s, to about four years old. From the wooden steps of our back door, past the blue rigid sided pool, stretching to the wildest edges of the back fence, my brother and I were monarchs of our childhood kingdom. The grass there was also spiked with sunny yellow faces and fluffy heads of spent dandelions, poised to send their magic seeds into the wind. We’d pluck them by their milky stalks, gathering them into bright bouquets, presenting them to our mom. She’d accept each bouquet as a treasured gift, displaying them in kitchen glasses until we’d forgotten about them. Even then, I somehow knew that dandelions were not roses.
I don’t often consider dandelions, except to bemoan their rapid reappearance on my own freshly cut lawn. Why is a dandelion considered a weed, anyways? Is it a lesser flower than a rose? A dandelion is magnificent in botanical analysis. Each spiky ‘petal’ of a dandelion is a flower in and of itself, collected into a composite flower head. Upon maturity, each floret transforms into a seed pod becoming part of a blowball. Anchored by wispy filament, the seed pod is able to parachute from the blowball, ensuring colonization of itself.
The milky substance found in the stem of a dandelion is natural latex. In Germany, Continental Tires is currently cultivating dandelion latex, piloting a line a dandelion tires, set to be tested on highways. And let’s also remember dandelion wine, and that dandelion is an ingredient in root beer (‘root’ beer as in a beverage derived from roots, who knew?) and the dandelion’s edible, medicinal and pharmacological properties. And that’s only the beginning. You can deepen this magic via a quick wiki search of Taraxacum.
I’ve been reading Annie Dillard’s ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’ for months. I’ve been equally absorbed and unable to bear any more ‘beauty tangled in rapture with violence‘ as Dillard recollects her year spent living in Virginia’s Roanocke Valley. I can only describe Dillard’s writing as reminiscent of a 1970’s acid trip, the kind where you stare in wonder at the previously undiscovered complexity, beauty and grisly dirtiness of the lines on the your palm of your hand. Tinker Creek explores pond slime and discarded snake skin, the luminescent segments of the back of a grasshopper, the roar of water off the slated mountains, the layers of life hidden in one square foot of soil beneath a sycamore tree, the rush of time that comes toward us as waves and passes by us as particles. I’m boggled, enraptured then overcome. I read a chapter or so, then hide the book away in a box, attempting to contain the unleashed power of its narrative, wishing I could write with half the drama and astonishment. But I’m not sure I could even bear to look so deeply at the world, for fear of falling forever down the rabbit hole.
I’ve been taking a course in academic writing this semester. I thought at the beginning, that my general writing experience would translate easily into academic writing. I was woefully wrong. Academic writing is as different from blogging or creative writing as geometry is from free handing simple shapes. I’m out of my element, frustrated by the imposition of form, tradition, genre, lens and protocol. But I’ve been reminded as a result, of the lens from which we approach a question or topic. And how it shapes our investigations and conclusions.
My mother in law visited this weekend. At 84, she’s a still a gale force. Her lens is education, engagement and achievement; values she’s impressed upon generations of family. Others I’m close to view life through the evangelical lens, one they believe, encompasses all others. As for my lens, it’s kaleidoscopic. Arbitrary bits of inspiration and information collide into each other daily. I can quite effortlessly weave together gas stations, childhood memories, latex tires, root beer, great books and academic writing courses in eight short paragraphs with no introduction, thesis, supporting evidence or conclusion. This is a rather under appreciated skill, especially in my writing class.
Let me leave you with a link to Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, which I suppose is the point of this ramble anyways. If you find something noteworthy in the text, let me know. Perhaps we can discover some dandelions together.
It also brings cherry blossoms, magnolias and flip flops. Does it get any better?
I tried to find an inspiring poem about hydrangeas to go with this glorious bathtub filled with them. But alas, no one has written one. I did find a gardening site wittily titled, ‘Two Women and a Hoe’, though. I’m afraid I won’t ever look at that word the same way again.
It’s been a while. Been busy with a paper on the Goddess Venus, a bit of Spring sprucing and looking ahead to summer. I have a full summer planned with a Creative Non-fiction Writing class, (travel! memoirs! personal essays!) a Children’s Literature class (Peter Pan! Anne of Green Gables! The Railway Children!) and either an Anthro or Community Arts project class. Maybe take a real or imaginary journey or two once Spring really settles in. Isn’t Spring just lovely?
…Came the Spring with all its splendor,
All its birds and all its blossoms,
All its flowers and leaves and grasses…
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Pop over and read all of Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha. It’s lovely too.
Photo Credits: eiramis.tumblr.com
I have the windows of my house flung wide today, letting in the scent of sunshine and Fraser Valley fertilizer. Fertilizer aside, it’s been a pleasant afternoon of dumping rainwater from my empty garden urns, pulling last year’s dried stalks from the lavender plants and inspecting the new (early!) growth of my chives. Spring things are beginning to happen everywhere; my bridal wreath spirea is sprouting feathery red bits that will soon burst into the hazy white veil it takes its name from, my hydrangeas are budding leaf pods and the bare tree branches, if you look very hard, are noticeably pregnant, ready to deliver any day now. I’m waiting for Spring with the anticipation and attention of a new mother. Spring, like the birth of new babies, just never gets old.
Last week I took a little imaginary trip to Latvia. (Sorry, I went without you, it was quite unexpected.) To be honest, Latvia has never been on my radar before. Which is remiss of me, since its capital city, Riga, was the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvia is bordered by Estonia, Lithuania and Russia and is perched on the edge of the Baltic Sea, (more romantically known as the Amber Sea) in case you’re scrambling to place it on your mental map. It’s also one of the best Eastern European budget travel destinations ~ with all the history, charm and incredible architecture one might expect of a European Capital of Culture.
But now that I’ve enticed you with Art Nouveau architecture and baby animals, let me show you the reason I ended up in Latvia in the first place. These girls!
Oh, is there not something sublime about girls in white dresses? (Can you hear strains from the Sound of Music? “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes!” Rodgers and Hammerstein must have been similarly inspired.)
I chased their ethereal beauty to a Latvian luxury children’s clothing company, Aristocrat Kids, whose handmade dresses are inspired by fairy tales. This line is called A Royal Tale, featuring European vintage detailing and fine fabrics. If that doesn’t quite capture your imagination, perhaps the Royal Garden or the Magic Bird collection might?
As lovely as those photographs are, I have mixed feelings about children in the fashion and entertainment industry. I loathe to think the unpretentious innocence that so captivates us, may be lost to our adult commercial pursuits. I dug long and hard through photo archives to find kids who didn’t look like they were modelling. I think that says something about the effect of projecting our fantasies upon kids. Beauty and privilege, even in story book form, shape our expectations of our lives and ourselves.
That said, I’m still rather a sucker for fantasy. I’ve spent much of February on imaginary journeys to Suffolk, St. Petersburg, Paris & Latvia, filling my house with blush tinged silk roses from the craft store and making a paper mache princess cat via an enchanted online class with the lovely Laetitia of Merveilles Enpapier. I suppose there are worse ways to spend February than in fantasy land.
And now comes March. An old friend and I, both who waited out the winter months in a fog of confused neurochemistry, wrote a little verse we’d chant in unison to encourage ourselves through to Spring.
“January! February! March! March! March!”
Keep marching. Only 22 days, 12 hours and 55 minutes until the official start of Spring!
My brain control centre has been clamoring for a pleasure rush this morning. Did you know that no matter what you crave, it can all be traced back to your neurons and really has little to do with what you think you desire? Knowing this, I suppose I could have satiated myself otherwise. But was inspired instead to a double glazed chocolate croissant and cream puffs for breakfast. Really, who am I to refuse the control centre?
I’ve been thinking about Valentine’s Day this week, since it’s right around the corner. I like to consider Valentine’s Day a season, one that lasts pretty much all year. Blush tinged roses, decadent pastries, new books. I’m an unabashed consumer of lovely things. And sometimes, I’m the lucky recipient of them. Like my new imaginary travel journal, which has taken up residence on my coffee table. Because who knows when inspiration may strike next?
Golden calligraphy makes any sentiment look good, don’t you think? And as they say, self affirmation is an important practice.
I’ve been debating taking an imaginary trip to the City of Love. It’s a bit passe though, isn’t it? Everyone’s flocking there this time of year. But I can no more resist Paris shop windows than I can cream puffs. So I’m afraid we’ll have to go anyways. Don’t worry, we’ll be quick. I only have an hour before I have to return to my imaginary job as a Printemps Paris window designer. Oh, the headaches I’m having with this display! (I should really see my therapist soon.)
Printemps, which alludes to Spring in french, is not only a department store, it’s a historic monument. When it opened in 1865, it boasted the latest in everything ~ electric lighting! electric heat! ready made dresses! imported fancies! For an intriguing fictional exploration of 19th century consumerism, check out Mr. Selfridge , the story of Harry Selfridge’s Flagship Department store in London. And PBS’s The Paradise, based Emile Zola’s novel, Au Bonheur Des Dames, which describes “the poetry of modern activity.” Both series are available on Netflix. I’ve spent many evenings power watching each in the name of history.
But we’re not here to talk about television series. We’ll barely be able to peek into the windows of a few lovely shops, but we’ll power walk, ok? The Hotel Costes’ shop is a dedicated rose boutique inspired by Josephine Bonaparte’s love of roses. It always has a must see display of roses. (Do follow the link and take a longer look. Divine.)
And what’s not to love about wild, romantic tangle of petals and foliage tumbling out the open door of 360 Degrees? I’ll take one of everything, gift wrapped!
Or Odorantes, which I’ve been lusting after simply forever… How many times have I fancied myself a floral shop owner? But this line between reality and fantasy is becoming more and more blurred and I must get back to work. My window display awaits me.
Oh look! A petite Parisienne outside the flower shop pulling petals off a rose! Tres jolie! I must get a picture even if means my job.
What a lovely lunch hour it’s been. Thank you for accompanying me on this fanciful (if hurried) jaunt. And Happy Valentine’s Day, where ever it finds you. Be sure to indulge yourself in some beauty.
Photo credits: Creampuff: n/c, Printemps window: n/c, Printemps signage: pinterest, n/c, Hotel Costes: Aryana Francesca Urbani, 360 Degrees: via pilgrimandpie blogspot, Odorantes: via awhitecarosuel.com, Petite Parisienne: Pinterest, n/c
I know, I know ~ it’s just been a week since our last imaginary escape, but really, what’s the harm? Real travel, imaginary travel; both expand our worlds. Tell you what, I won’t tell your psychiatrist if you won’t tell mine. How about a little trip to St. Petersburg? To winter palaces, gilded domes, opera length fur coats and tree lined, snow dusted boulevards? This isn’t twenty first century Russia, this is the Imperial Russia of Tsar Peter the Great, in all it’s golden and winter white baroque splendor. Continue reading “Come Away ~ St. Petersburg”