A day after my bride’s “polar plunge” in still frigid Lake Champlain, I’m swimming and drifting in the warm waters of Antigua, enjoying a free ranging conversation with one of my nephews, allowing salt and surf and steel band sounds (drifting intermittently from further up the shore) to exercise the sort of deep relinquishing that comes from knowing a vacation has only just begun.
Before departing Rosslyn I handed off germinating spring starts (broccoli and cucumbers) to Pam along with various vegetable and flower seeds that will be sown before long. Among the latter, thousands of poppy seeds. Always plenty of Red Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas aka Flanders Poppy) seeds as well as Shirley Poppy seeds, a cultivar of Papaver rhoeas that reminds me of my mother-in-law, Shirley Bacot Shamel. As my affection for poppies has long since escaped the restraint of manly propriety, I’ll concede that one of my spring fever symptoms is an infatuation with poppy plants, poppy blooms, poppy seed pods. And, in the case of the Shirley Poppy blooms, there’s always the added excitement since variations allow for intriguing surprises.
So a sunset soak with Christoph, gazing back at the oasis that we’ve been fortunate to enjoy as a family for eight years, curiously preoccupied with poppies, and looking forward to wandering the grounds in the days ahead to inspect the vast array of tropical orchids cultivated at Curtain Bluff, it struck me that I needed to explore these connections in a poem. Perhaps a Shirley Poppy poem?
Perhaps, but not today, as it turns out. The words that wanted to be written were driven in large part by a connection to place. This section seems to be headed in an interesting direction, for example.
Upon arriving, a warm Wadadli welcome, a breeze mellowed sun, familiar phrases, cadence, laughter lilting, lulling, returning us to the leeward lap of ease and comfort, a simple sanctuary bursting with blooms and recollections.
A bit decadent and overwrought still probably, but I am pleased to read it aloud.
But where am I hoping to go with this?!?! I can’t seem to see my way from tropical orchids to Shirley Poppy blooms. Nor am I certain that allowing my perennial passion for place, indeed for the poetry of place, to kidnap this still evolving verse is advisable.
Instead I’m curious how place, right now this perfect place nestled unassumingly into the hilly shore of Old Road, as well as the memories conjured by returning here, especially memories of my late mother-in-law, somehow a little more present when we’re here, connect. And why are they bleeding into my anticipation of a bumper crop of poppies back at Rosslyn?
Hhhmmm… Sometimes it’s wiser to admit defeat. For now. But stay tuned; I’ll try again.
What do you think?