Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Patio dining for a limited time only

Over the Memorial Day weekend the butterfly plant shot up over a foot, and then bloomed. The plant is next to the little table with the umbrella on my condo patio. A vivid red cardinal flew in, and claimed the table for his holiday picnic and concert. I'm the lucky one who enjoyed the dinner theater.

The blooms of the butterfly plant were at exactly beak level. The cardinal would bite off a bloom, and then promenade in a circle around the umbrella pole. It would sing a little, then march back for another bite looking totally smug. It repeated the show several circuits.

The plant grew another inch today. The cardinal better hurry back. By tomorrow he won't be able to reach his meal. I imagine him with the confusion of a drunk trying to negotiate a barstool. Maybe I should put out a booster seat for him.

In one of my all-time favorite books from childhood, The Twenty-One Balloons, there are dining tables and stools that hydraulically rise from the floor of the dining hall like mushrooms. After a meal, they lower back to floor level so all clean-up can be done with a mop, to the best of my childhood memory. This week's Indonesian earthquake brings that wonderful 1948 Newbery winning book to mind because the fictional dining hall is on the island of Krakatoa:

In this story, a sixty-six-year-old retired arithmetic teacher decides to take a hot-air balloon trip around the world in an effort to get away from everyone. Halfway around the globe, however, he becomes stranded on a volcanic island that is about to experience a massive eruption. The fantasy of The Twenty-One Balloons is built around an actual historic event—the massive volcanic eruption that destroyed the Pacific island of Krakatoa in 1883. But there the connection with history ends. The Professor discovers that the inhabitants of the island have established a unique, Utopian...

I thank enotes for refreshing my memory.

"There are so many greens if you are paying attention," I tell my students often. This week my patio is telling me there are so many reds in nature it takes a cookbook or a lipstick color chart to describe them all. There's a red geranium just like my grandma used to have on her porch. The coleus is that intense unnatural magenta of raspberry Jello. The mimosa tree behind the fence has fluffy blooms of a warm watermelon. The mums are in the colors of barbecue sauce, Gallo Hearty Burgundy, and a thick Tbone ready for the grill. There are a few volunteer strawberries next to the gate. The cannas remind me of boiled shrimp and lobster, but the miniature roses are Snow White's lips!

No wonder the cardinal feels right at home.

Charlotte Spivack. "The Twenty-One Balloons: Overview." Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults. Ed. Kirk H. Beetz. Vol. 4. Beacham-Gale, 1990. eNotes.com. January 2005. 30 May 2006.

No comments: