Not quite a Mood Indigo, but it will do
I love my garden. Tending its wants-and-needs put me in touch with whatever Higher Power I might be subscribing to at the time, whether it is God, Mother Earth, or that great Cosmic Muffin. Getting my fingers dirty, pulling weeds, pruning and trimming render my immortal soul feeling just a little more, well, immortal for a time.
Actually, the maintenance stuff is kind of wearying, if truth be known, which is why I really, really like my wife to do it. Wendy is much better at the task in any case; she is actually 'neat' about it.
No, what I really cherish is growing stuff. All manner of stuff. Even stuff that won't grow in this climate. A couple of years ago I tried to grow watermelons. I know they'll grow nicely in the heartland, but they are dicey on the coast. But, you know, I actually got one of them to grow. It was great. It was a lovely mottled green skin, and when sliced open it was a rich and juicy red. It smelled heavenly. But, and I guess it was something to do with the damp climate, it was about half-way between golf ball and tennis ball in size. It was actually very cute.
Other years I have tried to grow such esoterica as celery, okra, and even tobacco. Afraid I didn't get enough okra for a decent gumbo, and I love Louisiana cuisine.
Anyway, every year I try to grow something different, and just a bit exotic. At one time I read about the magnificence of blue poppies. They look just like the standard red or pink oriental poppies, but they are a wonderful shade of blue. You don't find them often. And when you do, they're quite expensive. But, about four years ago I found some plant sets at, of all places, Wal-Mart. They looked healthy enough in their tininess and, best of all, they were for sale at Wal-Mart prices. I guess the harvesters of poppy seeds in the high Himalayas (where blue poppies originate) aren't paid very much, and that might explain the price.
So, I took them home. I wasn't really expecting a great success. It was for more of a lark than anything. Furthermore, from what I'd read about blue poppies, the amateur horticulturalist's chance for success was about the same as the chances of Britney Spears earning a Harvard PhD. But, I stuck them in the ground to see what would happen. And, you know, the damn things grew. They grew to a goodly size. But, there were problems. One of them, the weaker of the two, fell victim to the ferocious slugs in these parts. I put down veritable pounds of slug-bait, but it seemed that the slimy bastards were just using the bait as a spice for their main course, one of my blue poppies.
Eventually the poor #2 poppy gave up the ghost. But, its compadre soldiered on, and got big enough that the slugs no longer bothered with it. It got to be about waist-height. Yet, it showed no sign of forming a bud of any sort. I surfed the Net and found that they don't blossom the first year. Damn! But, gardening is all about patience. If I didn't die during the ensuing year -- possibly from having a hit put on me by Britney in retaliation for being rude about her.-- Hey, it was all in fun, babe -- I stood a reasonable chance of seeing the fruits of my labors, provided the puppy made it through the winter.
It did make it through the winter. And the next spring it began forming buds. Many buds. And eventually those buds bloomed. They were beautiful. A delicate blue, with vibrant orange centers. It really was quite mind-blowing. It rewarded my pains in its special place in my garden. And, it would be back every year forever -- Not!
Blue poppies are supposed to be perennial, just like ordinary poppies. Not mine. It gave me my show and left that sort of message (I've heard) that one might get from a beautiful woman who agreed to make love with one: "OK, Buster. You've had it. I hope it was good. Now, piss off and don't bother me ever again." Yeah. It was sort of like that. With fall the poppy faded away, determined to never return.
So, one day I decided to paint a version of it, from the many photos I had taken of it at its moment of glory. It's not necessarily a wonderful painting, but it captures a bit of what it was, and what it meant. Anyway, it's all the poppy deserves for having left me so abruptly. But, like the beautiful woman, the memories are superlative.