A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Polka Dot Begonia

This evening the Wednesday Poets met at the home of Julian Crowell. Julian lives in the neighborhood where I grew up, in a house that looks the way I remember those houses looking in the 50s. So it's kind of a trip back in time for me to go there.

Julian's wife is partial to old-fashioned house plants, like African violets and begonias. This is one of the plants in her collection. It's a variety of begonia they acquired from a greenhouse in Connecticut. Further details of its pedigree are lost.

Begonias are often grown for their showy flowers, which have been hybridized for size and a wide range of brilliant colors. It's begonias that make up the vibrant tapis de fleurs in Brussels's Grand-Place every other August.

But there are other varieties, grown more for their foliage. This odd polka-dot beauty is one of them. It's one of the cane-type or "angel wings," several varieties of which have spots. This one is particularly appealing because the spots look like they have been painted on--something about the irregularity of the splotches and the sharp contrast between the green of the leaves and the white of the spots.

The begonia is a native of the West Indies, named for Michel Bégon, governor of Santo Domingo in the early 18th century. They're wildly popular in Belgium, where most of the world's tuberose begonias are cultivated. (Those are the small plants with waxy leaves and big, brilliantly colored blooms.)

Although I love flowers, I've never been much into begonias myself. Till just recently, that is, with the Brussels carpet of flowers and now this spindly little guy bringing them to my attention. I'm even thinking of talking Julian out of a cutting of his polka-dotted specimen. Makes me wonder what other things in which I have little current interest might be my passions this time next year.