10th : Flora

The beauty of the most seemingly insignificant things cannot be underestimated.  The tourist or connoisseur of the specific sees what the local has too often become immune to. The joy of recognising or seeing for the first time flowers or shrubs or roots or weeds that are as dramatically iconic to me as they are commonplace to another can often seem confusing or misjudged.

I frequently catch people’s look of shocked or amusement at my ecstatic facial expressions or hand waving as I try to convey to no one in particular just how amazing it is to see new and unusual fruit or vegetables or to have found the tree whose flowers had previously only resided in dreams, Disney cartoons or exotic adverts for holiday destinations I never imagined I would visit (and sometimes even potentially would never want to visit … the distance is still the same in either case)!

I felt this way seeing the different strains of plumeria in Thailand.  The flowers litter the pavements under their parents swinging boughs and are left to turn brown and rot in a way upsetting and alien to my desire for their perfect white or pink petals to remain held static, in a parody of the realism of purity.  Each time I passes a tree I would look for the least spotty specimin and place it carefully in my now greying locks.  Looking up after this I often caught the amused gaze of a local who’s face cracks into an ear to ear smile as our eyes lock.  I am more likely to see the local children doing this than anyone even vaguely approaching my age so I am sure they think its a little bit eccentric.

No longer am I able to to convince myself or anyone else of my youth and the plumeria has, in my mind, the connotation of the tropical maiden, conche shell in hand, flower in hair, walking the beach towards her handsome (I’m sorry this is so heteronormative but I’m writing the ‘stereotype’ so bare with me!) partner.

The flowers in my mind come along with a sense of exoticism which I am not wholly comfortable with since it can often come from a place of caricature rather than reality but the sent and texture of the flower, newly fallen from the tree, is lovely to me.

Flowers given have a range of connotations.   In England, in times, past the choice of colour and type could indicate particular particular emotions and a bouquet of flowers could potentially even spell out a private message to a loved one.

These flowers are specifically sent during the winter to provide some light and life, knowing that the nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter, because they hold the sunshine and warmth which will return and they contain the breath of new growth and fertility which will drift back across the Green Isle in due time.