Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Our Lady of the Flowers
I'm not a flower guy.
No pansies in my window boxes.
But the carnations are beating about the steel railings looking for White Sports Coats.
Marty Robins on the brain. Hank Williams in the memory banks, especially on roses and teardrops.
I am a vegetable farmer, small scale,very small scale.Flowerpots and tubs on my balcony. Cucumbers tendrils chase me right into the kitchen. Red Runner beans are out ambushing the neighbour just above .
Heretofore a transplanted Ukrainian peasant (actually, we were landed folk) I found one day that I had portable roots and I might as well set them down somewhere, even if temporarily. Potatoes grow in huge tubs. Tomatoes hang down in festoons.
But here and there, a flower.
How does a frustrated vegetable gardener end up with flowers.
Well, one day I had a dollar to spend on tomato seedlings. It was late spring, and I found I could get two items for a dollar. I could have the tomato plants as long as I selected some half-grown carnations as well.
Well here they come, the little red bastards and they do so prettify my balcony boxes.
I dug up the little mothers myself, out of a junkyard meadow. Hardy little suckers. Bloom forever and keep the aphids off my carnations and beans.
I once taught creative writing to a group of athletes and policemen.
Amazing how they would write when it came to quaffing a daff:
"He went down on one knee to establish correct flower-sniffing position."
"I thought the instructor was a communist, why else would he RCMP have me monitor this class. Not a communist, pretty good bourgeois, really."
"I am so gla you're not a communist, Ivan," says the lady plant from the Board of Directors at Seneca.
"Our Lady of the Flowers," said the Jean Genet fan, who all the while wanted to write short stories about virile young men eating big meals.
I suppose every creative writing class, like many a movie, has to have at least one gay athlete in it.
But then anybody who read Jean Genet was all right in my books too. Ever read the opening of "Our Lady of the Flowers"? Muddafukkah, that's some writin'
At about the time Seneca hired me, I'd been living on an acre of land in a one-and-a-half story farmhouse, growing beans and cucumbers and corn and cabbage, living the hippie dream to the hilt, so proud one day to have a dinner brought up entirely by my hands....All right, I cheated on the protein. Caught perch just off the front dock...I did intend to keep pigs just to proudly announce that I was a pig farmer at writers' conventions--that would get the conversation going, but my wife advised me against it. As for cows, we had them, or, more properly, my father-in-law had them 12 heifers, for the Great Canadian Dream stipulates that you need to raise heifers in order to be a proper hobby farmer.
How does a young fool get into a lifestyle like that?
Write, and write and write and write lots. Publish a lot, especially locally. Nobody reads the Globe or the Atlantic out in Ruralville, but they do read the local paper. Get enough articles in the local paper and the local aggie university will pick you up and next thing you know, you're teaching the shit.
But today, it was the first time I actually saw my own flowers coming up.
Aping my athlete writer friend, I "got down to flower-sniffing-position", but couldn't smell much. Newmarket air going foul , too many people in too small a town making the life of a flower somewhat tough. . Pretty flower, but no smell.
There is also the matter of the timorous, cowardly skunk on the lawn.
I mean, skunks are people too! He was here first. Where was he to go?
Ah, well. My intention had been to write about Hank Williams, a hundred songs in as many days most times for that tortured bard. Died at twenty-nine, after having written hundreds of songs, especially "Teardrop on a Rose, which can really turn on the waterworks for this old bum, who wrote for thirty years and really published so little.
But I can now grow flowers.