After the appearance of this picture a week ago, Gallivanta suggested repeating it today, this time with the rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) symbolizing several things. For her it’s her father’s birthday (best wishes). May 8 is also World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. In 2016, May 8 happens to be Mother’s Day. In 1945, the Allies celebrated May 8 as VE Day, Victory in Europe over the forces of Nazi Germany. That same day and year also saw the birth of my childhood friend Michael Kindman, who unfortunately died young a couple of decades ago.
If you’ll indulge me for having decided “to paint the lily,” as Shakespeare put it*, here’s yet another photograph from a month ago today at the Doeskin Ranch. Adjacent to a yellowing twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) leaf I found a Heller’s plantain (Plantago helleri). This little plant(ain) typically goes through the nodding phase you see here before straightening up and producing tiny flowers.
Oh well, now that I’ve mentioned its flowers, I guess I have to show you one. Here’s a view from my northwest Austin neighborhood on March 20:
* Here’s the passage from Shakespeare’s King John:
Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
Somehow in public memory the two metaphors in the third line have merged, with the result that we now encounter the incorrect phrase “to gild the lily” more often than the correct one.
© 2016 Steven Schwartzman