Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peacock jewels

On cue, in autumn, the Abyssinian gladiolus opened. Some of the plants bloomed early, in late summer, so this is a nice present.

Abyssinia. Ethiopia. Both beautiful words. A pocket of eastern Africa. Imagine sheets of these growing wild on the hillsides, smelling like orchards of gardenias (or perhaps gardenias smell like hillsides of Abyssinian gladiolus...).

Acidanthera murielae. Peacock flower, Abyssinian gladiolus. Grown from corms, planted about three
inches deep. Full sun.

In the back of Mrs Reeler's algebra class, when I was about 15,  I sat and wrote

The rain on the leaves
pours them down
and with it pours spring.

My dreams are peacock jewels
in the classroom.

I failed algebra.

Six years later I walked into a bank on Adderley Street in Cape Town with a friend who had an American check to cash. The bank teller computed the exchange rate for South African rands and before her calculator had finished its job, out of my mouth came the conversion. I had meant it as a joke. But it was correct to the last, minute, decimal point. She held up her calculator to show me.

I always wondered about that.


  1. What a beautifully simple flower - I think we sometimes forget to use bulbs in the garden other than in spring time. Love your little poem.

  2. do batten down all your hatches this weekend. it looks like the mother of all storms is headed your way. would hate to see a lot of damage to the farm or the terrace. good luck!

  3. I'm with Webb. Be careful up there. Don't let last year's near miss lull you to thinking this one won't be bad. Each storm is different. And this one looks bad to my eyes (that have seen a lot of hurricanes.)

  4. Thank you for your words of caution -we'll be careful and take down the edge-pots if necessary.

    I'll wait till we're closer to the time to freak out, though. The news media loves a story that hasn't happened yet!

  5. of my favourite flowers - and amazingly, mine were still going until last nights frost. Like I've said before, they smell of seaside to me! :)


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