a little east of reality

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I love fresh flowers. Sometimes on Valentine's day people see them as a bit cliched, but they are so beautiful that I never care. (And they are particularly nice compared to say...nothing. ^_^)

Phi says he likes flowers, but would rather receive a plant, because they don't die like the flowers do. This of course is not true for me, because while I know secret ways to make cut flowers last longer, plants die around me almost immediately I get them (think of Typhoid roaming through the gardens in the movie Elektra). It's weird...they all seem to want the one thing I can't remember to give them...water. Maybe I need a particularly unfussy variety of cactus.

I'm reading the book that the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was loosely based on. I love the way she describes the man who comes each day to the small shrine just on the outside of her fence. In the movie we see him coming there every day with various kinds of flowers, but in the book we see him more fully.
Now I wait for him. He examines what wildflowers the roadside and fields offer, leans to pick what he fancies. He varies his selection, bringing new blooms as they spring up. I'm up on a high terrace, hacking ivy off stone walls and chopping off dry limbs of neglected trees. The profusion of flowers stops me every few minutes. I don't know enough of the English names, much less the Italian. One plant shaped like a little tabletop Christmas tree, is spiked all over with white flowers. I think we have wild red gladioluses. Lusty red poppies literally carpet the hillsides, their vibrancy cooled by clusters of blue irises, now withering to an ash gray. The grass brushes my knees.

When I stop just to look, the pilgrim is approaching. He pauses in the road and stares up at me. I wave but he does not wave back, just blankly stares as though I, a foreigner, am a creature unaware of being looked at, a zoo animal.

...That I have acquired a shrine amazes me. What amazes me more is that I have taken on the ritual of the man with the flowers. I lay the clippers down in the grass. He approaches slowly, the bouquet almost behind him. When he is at the shrine I never watch. Later, I will walk down the terrace, down the driveway to see what he left. The brilliant yellow broom called ginestra and red poppies? Lavender and wheat? I always touch his blade of weed tying that ties them together.
Once I received a bunch of red roses anonomously at work for Valentine's Day. It is SO COOL getting flowers at work. The moment the delivery person walks through the door, everyone is curious to know who the flowers are for. When you find out they are for you, this little thrill goes through you. It's for ME that someone stopped and thought to buy flowers today - special, special. Anyway, these were sent anonomously. I rang the florist and actually managed to convince the girl there that I could be trusted never to tell, if only she would reveal the sender. Sadly all my earnest assurances were for nothing - the clever sender had paid in person in cash, so there was nothing to reveal. I still don't know who sent them, though a lovely man (that I am still friends with) did ask me to dance that night, for many songs. So sweet. I've often wondered, and never received an answer. But I'll always remember the flowers.

The first time I had my own place, I used to buy flowers on the way home every Saturday night from the petrol station, so that on Sunday I always had fresh flowers in the house. It was something that made the place feel like mine. Recently I bought a vase, and I have it in mind to restart the tradition. I like buying myself flowers. It's like the L'oreal slogan: I do it "because I'm worth it". And just because they're music to your eyes.