Wednesday, July 13, 2005
A Red Hibiscus and "Remembrance of Things Past"
It began with a large ceramic planter which I received as a gift from my kind apartment owners.
The planter was meant for indoor use; it had no drainage hole. So, the first thing I did was to have a large hole drilled at the bottom. I wanted to place it outside in my front yard. Then came the hard part--what to plant in it. I decided on a flowering plant and went looking at local nurseries.
The choice was not hard to make. As soon as I walked in to the aisle where they were, a red hibiscus grabbed my attention. Mind plays strange tricks. Standing in the middle of plants of different kinds I was transported to my childhood, and could clearly visualize aboriginal women who came to town on market days with baskets of produce and, often, a red hibiscus stuck in the hair. The effect of their jet black skin, shiny black hair, often rolled up in a bun, and the red flower was striking.
I bought the hibiscus and planted it. It is blooming. I did not know that the flowers begin to wilt by the second day. It would not have made the slightest difference if I did.
A few days later I went to a dinner given by friends. There I mentioned my new acquisition to a woman who likes to potter with flowering plants. She said "Why did you pick red; they are so common". Perhaps I should have but thought that it was not the time and place to tell her why I picked the red hibiscus.
Here is a passage that might partly explain it.
"The places we have known before belong now only to the the little world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. None of them was ever more than a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; remembrance of a particular form is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, road, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years."
---Remembrance of Things Past, Part I "Swann's Way" by Marcel Proust (1877-1922)