Friday, June 1, 2012
Voodoo Lily Time, Again
Last year around this time, I published the post, below. Well, it's Voodoo Lily time, again. My friend Glenn just sent me the above photo and promises another, of the entire group fully blossomed out. One scarcely knows whether to admire these things, or to keep a safe distance. It's one of the things I love about life: there's always something mysterious and alluring, cropping up right in our own backyards!
May something strange and wonderful unexpectedly blossom in your life, today!
Who Do the Voodoo? Lily Do!
A lily blossoms, over mountain and vale, at all ends of the earth.
-- Jacobe Böhme
Of all flowers, lilies are my favorite. The lush, spotted throats of the lilies are, for me, the epitome of feminine beauty. Although they are quite common, they always seem rare and exotic, like flowers from the deepest Amazon jungle or from another planet. Because of its great beauty, should it surprise us then, that the lily symbolizes the rise of the age of the Holy Spirit?
Perhaps this attitude comes from my childhood. My parents pioneered on this mountain, when there was no water, electricity or telephone. My father brought water to the house he was building us by re-digging by hand over a mile of ditch system that originally had been dug by Chinese labor during the Gold Rush. What little water arrived by this languid means was muddy and filled with leaves and dead insects and collected darkly in a brooding sump in the backyard.
My mother struggled valiantly to raise gardens and managed through diligence and pure aesthetic hunger to create the beds that I still tend. Even given the poor soil of the mountaintop, which is about two inches of tough red clay overlying mother rock, with marauding deer and rabbits ever threatening the nighttime authority of our dog Spike, and with water sufficient to literally dribble from the hose, my mother managed to lift up bouquets of Sweet William, Canterbury bells, foxglove and Shasta daisies, and at the back of the southern border, a drift of orange daylilies backed up by an enthusiastic Cecile Brunner rose that hoisted herself up into the nearby apple tree and bloomed, twenty-five feet off the ground.
In the lily world there is scarcely anything more humble than these simple daylilies, yet the fleshy, pumpkin-colored petals were a sensual delight of my childhood. In later years, I named my favorite cat Mademoiselle Lilli B. Catroux I and her successor—who proved herself to be a reincarnation by refusing to eat at the new site of her bowl, which I had moved because I always stuck my foot in it while preparing dinner; refused to answer to any name but Lilli; and steadfastly maintained the odd habits of her former incarnation—Mademoiselle Lilli B. Catroux Too. Characters in various writings took on the name Lily or Lilianna. And my own name, Suzan, is derived from the Hebrew word for lily, shoshannah, a fact I learned long after my love for that flower had been established.
So, when my friend Glenn recently emailed, offering to send me a sample of an exotic lily that had mysteriously sprouted in his yard, I was intrigued. They are called, he said, variously, Dracunculus vulgaris, Dragon Arum or
Voodoo Lilies. Now, maybe somebody out there could resist a Voodoo Lily, but personally I cannot.
When a foot-long mailing tube arrived from Glenn last week, I wasted not a moment to open it and withdraw the paper-wrapped contents. Here is where, as a writer, I fail you, dear reader: I cannot quite describe to you my reaction when pulling the Voodoo Lily from its carton. Within the paper swaddling lay an object?—a creature?—a plant form? marvelous beyond the power of words to convey.
Imagine a stalk, neatly cut off with garden sheers, at one end, and sporting an egg-shaped 3-inch knob at the other, studded in pea-sized bright green seeds. Attached to the stalk is a squiggle of dried leaves like medieval script risen off the page into 3-D and having an orgy with itself.
It is lying, now, on the Victorian marble-topped table in the sunshine, like the lost scepter of a fairy queen; or a fetish from the hands of a very wise shaman; or sea wrack tossed up from Neptune's palace. It seems to me its prototype might have been created in gold by the Minoans. Or possibly it sprouted from a seed dropped from the stars. I so appreciate that Glenn left its crazy squiggle of dried leaves intact, as I feel it may be calligraphy that tells the secrets of the universe, if we could but decipher it.
This strange and wonderful plant has given me pause. I ponder it. I think I adore it. In it the marvelous inventiveness of nature seems to have outdone itself in creating beauty, mystery and power annealed. The Voodoo Lily has worked its magic. I am enthralled.
Posted by Suzan at 6:45 AM