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.

And daisies.
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.


DoubtingThomas said...

A few short minutes ago, just before I read your post about growing things, I watered my flowers and tomatoes and herbs. I should say they belong to SWMBO. I just water them. It is a nightly ritual, relieved only when a thunderstorm visits. The garden in the front, the one the neighbors see, is for flowers only. (I should plant cabbages there, and see if anyone makes the Toronto connection.) (Alas, some of my comedic gestures are enjoyed only by me.) The garden on the small deck in the rear is for flowers and edibles. The tomatoes taste better than the grocery store variety. (Ever see a store that sell only groceries any more?)

And Ivan, if you ever had raised pigs, you wouldn't have to announce it; it is a thing which announces itself, if that meaning drifts over to you, or should I say, wafts in your direction. You wouldn't be smelling carnations.

Enjoying your more frequent posts. Even the ones in stereo. Something connected with gardening responsible?

Anonymous said...

Ville de chou?

Erik Ivan James said...

Stop, Erik, and smell the roses.
Get to your knees and pray.
Humble yourself, and life's sweet gardens will grow before you.
Pick the harvest, share the bounty, save for you the least.

Tried that. Weeds grew.

ivan said...

Blogger acting up.
Write about the weeds?

ivan said...

In stereo?
I never took no stereo! Get these cuffs off me.

Anonymous said...

Ivan, yet another Rimmer story. Paul always told it like he saw it, and one Secretary's day produced a deusie of a diatribe about lazy secretaries who were on the phone to their kids all the time, and generally goofed off. It was secretaries against Paul time. Paul was notorious for missing deadlines after losing another round in his fight against John Barleycorn. Some bright light ran the secretay rant again the next secretary's day! Poor old Paul!

When Alan McPhie's car acted up, he would drive it to work at the CBC in first gear to punish it. Don't you wish you could do that with Blogger?

H.E.Eigler said...

I find flowers and gardening so humbling. A tiny seed is already packed with so much before we put it in the ground. It knows its destiny. It barely needs us. It will be what it will be and all it needs is water and sun.

Nice post, Ivan. I'm enjoying the increased frequency as well.

ivan said...

Thanks so much, Heddy.
I've just finished another blog, though watch out, it's pretty baroque!

ivan said...


You are psychic--that or you're getting to know me.

My upcoming blog is about a writer on assignment "dogging it" for stabs at "creative writing", all these activities causing him to drink, and drink some more.

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