Somewhere in the far windings of my addled brain, I vaguely remember a skit from a Swedish 70’s variety show (HasseåTage’s Svea Hund, 1976) where the Vegetables were taunting the Rose for just being “beautiful”, and not at all “useful”. The Dandelion waltzes in. The Vegetables like him even less than they like the Rose, as – to their thinking – he is neither useful, nor beautiful. The Rose argues otherwise, and defends the Dandelion as both handsome and useful. There was more to it of course, but I could not find the clip showing the actual inspiration for this post. (It’s apparently available online, but only viewable in Sweden.) The point of the skit is that without beauty, the soul will wither, and starve. As flowers and other features of the vegetative kingdom bring beauty, they can soften the hard edges of our lives and make our existence more tolerable.
Lately, I have been fantasizing about life behind bars. (Not necessarily for me, but I can think of several I’d like to see locked up.) The barrage of images of random arrests on the streets of Portland, by federal police (or whatever/whomever they are) in riot gear, keeps that vision rather real. On three separate nights in the past week or so, I have heard helicopters hovering over our neighborhood, and police trying to break up mostly peaceful, late night protests mere blocks from our house, declaring them “riots” over the loudspeakers. It’s been pretty surreal. So, as I’m beyond appalled at the state of the union, I figured riffing on the idea that our world can be made less harsh and more palatable with plants, might help brighten the dark corners of my gobsmacked soul. I imagine these lovely Liatris serving their useful function as jail bars, protecting me from those who wish to exert their power over me and other citizens who too might be waking up to the fact that authoritarianism is not quite what we want in a “democracy”. Can you see it? After all, a pattern is a pattern, is a pattern…. right?