August 03, 2007

Liatris and Melancholy

Liatris or blazing star
Liatris is one wildflower that I started calling by its genus name before I knew any common names. (The common name is blazing star.)

For that I blame my old grad school friend Hank Fabian, second-generation flower grower and now head of the biology department at Merritt College in Oakland.

Before he started teaching, he went back to the family business and started growing flowers wholesale for southern Colorado florists. During a period of my own under-employment, I occasionally worked for him doing grunt work like stripping and bundling flowers. Yep, just like Maria Full of Grace but without the cocaine.

Hank grew a variety of Liatris, which florists like as a cut flower because it holds its bloom for a number of days, slowly opening from the bottom up, and it's easy to process and handle.

When they start blooming here, it signals the final arc of summer. Purple Liatris and purple asters joing all the yellow-gold asters. Purple and gold, the colors of Fort Collins High School. I attended four high schools but graduated from FCHS. Its school teams are the Lambkins. Evidently, back in the 1890s, someone must have reasoned that the sports teams would play harder if they were named for a plush toy. (Sort of like "A Boy Named Sue," I suppose.)

(And the school song was to the tune of "Deutschland Uber Alles". How did that escape the anti-German hysteria of World War One? Someone must have pleaded Papa Haydn's case.)

Those memories: Childhood's end. The summer of poverty in Cañon City. The falling arc of every year.

No comments: