Mary Beth Writes

Wisteria is a plant that grows on woody twining vines and is in the legume (beans!) family. It’s native to China, Korea, Japan, southern Canada, and eastern US.

Wisterias climb by twining their stems around any available support. Japanese wisteria twines clockwise, Chinese wisteria twines counterclockwise. The plant can grow to a huge size; there’s a Chinese wisteria in California that covers more than an acre and weighs 250 tons. Both Chinese and Japanese wisteria were introduced in the US in the 1800’s. These days, because of their hardiness and tendency to escape cultivation, non-native wisterias are considered invasive species. Also, all parts of the wisteria plant are a little or a lot poisonous.

Botanist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) said he named the genus Wisteria in memory of American physician Caspar Wistar; when questioned about the spelling, Nuttall said it was for "euphony.” Nuttall’s biographer speculated that it may have something to do with Nuttall's friend Charles Jones Wister.

Thomas Nuttall, who never married, sounds like a fabulous man. He traveled widely, explored places barely seen by Europeans at that time - Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, the Missouri River, and the Great Lakes. He collected and categorized plants, taught at Harvard several years and then quit to go off exploring again. Usually with just one or two other men (obviously, European women were rarely able to join expeditions). One can hope this interesting man found love and joy as well as plants and trees during his adventures.

I was sitting here, remembering the Wisteria I actually walked into on a Santa Fe sidewalk. Those flowers were outrageously gorgeous. The overpoweringly sweet scent immediately time-traveled me back to Grandma Esther’s lavender bathroom that smelled that exact sweetness. Now I know, Grandma bought Wisteria talc.

Wisteria Fable

The nation was ravaged by feral canaries. When people walked out of their homes - mauve, plum, indigo, violet, orchid, periwinkle, mulberry, heliotrope, hyacinth, amaranthine, azure, and damson birds would streak from the sky, shrieking tiny chirps, delivering picks and pecks like small pneumatic nail guns.

Citizens were wounded, worried, scared, and bleeding from the tiny holes in their heads and shoulders and arms.

Those who could, start working from home. Socializing was reduced to urgent and bewildered Zooming. Essential workers wore helmets and shoulder pads to sprint across driveways and parking lots into their warehouse jobs. Delivered restaurant and grocery store orders arrived at one’s porch with peck-hole leaks, torn fruits, ripped vegetables, and decimated packaging.

No one knew what to do. Journalists reported on their crisis from their white living rooms while fuchsia and lavender canaries rapped noisily at their windows.

The future was beak-bleak.

Then one day an elegant 12-year-old child walked out of his house - and the canaries stood still in the air. For that child, on that day, wore an entire outfit covered in small mirrors. Every square inch of his outfit glittered with shards of broken mirrors, and the round mirrors from old makeup compacts, and the beveled edges of outdated bathroom medicine cabinets. There were spangles hanging from his lapels. His uncle had forgotten his cowboy hat the last time he visited; the boy had covered it with rainbow strips of color mirrors edged with dangling beads. He wore gym shoes with mirrors super-glued to the toes and heels. The boy was a flashing, glittering, vision of light.

As he sauntered down the sidewalk canaries from around the state were stunned by his brilliance and then attracted to his arcs and rays of flashing light. The canaries circled his head and shoulders, looking at themselves, preening, cooing, weaving, and wafting. The elegant boy had evoked his own murmuration of Wisterian canaries.

Then, the birds fell in love with each other. They zipped to far-flung jungles to lay teeny blue eggs and raise tiny periwinkle families. The canaries never bothered humans again.

From that day onwards when Wisteria blooms, those who know how to be grateful, are.

No problem is truly fixed until wrongdoers see themselves clearly.

 

 

Comments

I so enjoy your posts, and your stories. Thank you, Mary Beth. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks for saying so! I appreciate hearing it!

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

A-Z Barbara

Barbara 1/26/2023

A-Z means I’m writing short takes on random topics and I’m going in alphabetical order. I love this quote: “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

That’s the spirit I’m pursuing: Undisciplined, irreverent, and original.

A-Z, Alaska

1/25/2023 

I’ve never been to Alaska. I’m sure I’d love it but going there is not a big dream for either Len or me.

However, this. When our son was around 12 he developed a crush on all things Alaskan. Kid who lives in a ranch house on a Midwestern cul-de-sac wants to get lost in tundra and mountains with moose and wolves. Yup.

At first he just talked, dreamed, read books, and watched shows about Alaska. Then, at 14 he got a part-time job as a janitor at a vet clinic and he kept that job until he went to college. It was a good fit for a kid not drawn to homework.

A to Z

1/25/2023

I am not exactly depressed, but I can whip up a pretty good glum at almost any moment. There have been about three sunny days since Thanksgiving, and four colds, and I’m feeling it. How about you?

We can’t even properly whine. Not with the Atmospheric Rivers of Doom in California, and tornadoes in the south. And all the other glum and hateful news.

Sara Kurtz & Healthcare by Zip Code? Really?

1/22/2023 

Many of you have been very generous in the past. Please think about making a donation to the GoFundMe account of Sara Kurtz. Donate here. 

Who is Sara? She’s a friend of my niece Susan.

Len Explains Fusion Energy

The photo is of Lisa Meitner. The BFF of one of our kids is (quite likely) a great grand niece of this amazing woman. 

...

MB: Len occasionally explains very complicated science things to me or our kids in such a way that we actually understand it. One of our kids asked him what the big deal was about fusion. Len wrote this and I thought some of you might like to read it.

Long live curious people and long live nerds. 

 

Almost. Two Years Later

1/6/2023 

 I remember where I was two years ago this afternoon. Do you?

I was writing. I knew I had another hour to just work by myself and I was happy about that. I love no interruptions.

Len was downstairs. I heard him turn on the TV. We NEVER watch TV during the day so it was weird when he called up to me, “You should come down here. Something’s happening.”

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola groceries Guatemala gum guns happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope hurricane impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards Three Thing ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion