PHYLLIS ODESSEY

A drooping head…


Call it what you will, recession or depression, these days it’s hard not to walk around with a drooping head.

Cleaning up in the garden this week, I was reminded that a drooping head can mean something else. The hellebores were nestled among crunchy fall leaves. Once cleared away, I received the appropriate clichéd jolt: spring is on the way.

Some people can go to a room full of 16 th century paintings and spin a great yarn, because they can read the religious iconography. I like the tales that plants tell when you look into the origin of their names. Hellebores are stubborn members of the Ranunculaceae family. Their history is in dispute. Some historians believe Alexander the Great overdosed by eating hellebores. Others believe a Greek general used the flower as an early example of biochemical warfare. John Keats used hellebores as a metaphor to describe “each ample curl” on a certain woman’s head.

I only know one thing for sure about hellebores. It’s hard to keep a drooping head after you’ve passed by a hellebore.

To be interested in the changing seasons
is a happier state of mind
than to be hopelessly in love with spring.

George Santayana

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