Saturday, May 24, 2014

Purple Days

Since late April neighborhood streets have been festooned with jacaranda blossoms, purple as prose but on them it looks good. One might say they form a flamboyant canopy of lavender ribbon…..but I would never say such a thing. And if I just did it’s because the power of the understatement is inappropriate. If flowers could sing, and they do, jacarandas are opera; the divas of spring.

Wildflowers come and go according to their mood and a sufficiency of rain but jacarandas tolerate droughts well, dry throat and all, as they must here in this rescued desert. From where do they get their deep dazzle? Even if I knew I wouldn’t say. Some questions are best unanswered.

To give jacarandas their due the j is pronounced with an h sound or better yet a ch as in chale.

Their leaf is lacy, almost fern-like on branches which elbow their way to mother sun. The blossom occurs in what are called panicles, giving new meaning to panic in the streets. Too bad for us their season is short here in Los Angeles. They disappear from exhaustion after five or six weeks.

And we are bereft. But even when the branches are undressed their petals drop a carpet below which looks inviting to everyone but the homeowner who has to sweep away the sticky flower.

It seems to me this purple jacaranda rain used to fall in late June but the warmest April on record is provoking the tree to bloom earlier. If you can’t get enough of this wonderful stuff you can chase them around the world and purple yourself year-long. There are worse ways to die.

What started in Argentina worked its way north through Central and North America and then circled the globe. There are festivals in Australia and Pretoria, South Africa, is named, Jacaranda City.  A friend once told me that China banned jacarandas after some important person had slipped on their fallen petals. I can find nothing to verify this and chalk it up to mischief-makers on a slippery slope. I shall defend the honor of jacaranda with my last purple breath. Anyway, it couldn’t happen here. We have no important people.

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