Monday, June 7, 2010


David and Greg,

Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.  
(Rabindranath Tagore, Fireflies, 1928)

Ah, my flowering friends. The two of you have spent so much time trying to teach me the names of things, the pretty blossoming things which have brought me so much joy. I am  a poor pupil because the names are not as magical to me as their beauty, and despite their poetry, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, the dreamer in me can't help but I appreciate them all the more for not knowing what to call them--like the pretty girl I passed in the park last year, the one stooped over her guitar, whisper-singing a song to the wind. Or the shapes of the clouds which transfix me as I lay on my back next to Roo on hot summer days. I do not need to know a cumulonimbus from a stratus, and discovering that perhaps my little singer was really called Wanda would somehow break her spell and the serenity of her memory. The color and scent, the way they catch the dew or bend with the breeze, creep up the side of an elm, these are all that matter to me of the flora of this world.

And yet there are a few that I remember. David, you introduced me to Jack-in-the-Pulpit, which is almost obscene but brings a smile to my face when I reflect on it. Greg, your Bachelor Buttons have filled me with untold joy. Perhaps I am richer for knowing the names, but I think I am richer for having been told them by you.

Duncan led me down to the lake today and as we neared my nose picked out that one scent that sustains me throughout the year, the honey, mint butter fragrance of my precious Russian Olives, now finally coming into bloom. I would gladly spend any afternoon with you, but I can imagine none more perfect than walking you across a hillside of Russian Olives, asking you to close your eyes as I cup the reedy branch with its delicate yellow flowers toward your face. I would explain to you that while some people have songs and music, or poems or films that best express the story of their lives, mine would be perfectly encapsulated by the sweet, heady scent of those tiny petals. And because you understand the magic of growing things and because you can hear with your hearts, you would understand and perhaps know me better than most people.

That would be the greatest gift I could offer you, and your silence and reflection at that moment would be the greatest you could give in return.


Greg said...

I know enough to know that the Blooming of the Russian Olives is like Christmas on your calendar. Oh, Happy Day, my dear Curt!

Those sweet yellow blossoms look so much like the little white ones on that Autumn Olive I discovered this spring, so now I have a hint of the fragrance you cup beneath our collective Nose as I close my eyes and inhale the sweet scent.

What a treat.

Marty said...

I have never seen or smelled a Russian Olive, but you write about them so beautifully. I think I'm going to the Missouri Botanical Garden and checking to see if they have any.

David said...

The Elaeagnus Angustifolia are in bloom again! (A Russian Olive by any other name would smell as sweet...)

Cheryl said...

Did you know "Russians" are/were Grandpa Fuger's favorite bloom smell. Every drive was spent with the car window down, inhaling some sweet scent from Grandpa's memory. Maybe that's where he used it up.XO