Friday, August 28, 2015

cereus fruits

Last Saturday, Steve's former colleagues Louise and Marsha came by to pick him up for an event. They were fascinated by our huge cereus,* which happened to be bearing a number of fat buds as well as some spent blossoms in various stages of dilapidation. We speculated about whether any would turn into fruit. Since Louise is a faithful reader of this blog, I started talking about a post I'd written last year about the fruit that had formed then. Louise said she hadn't seen it, so I thought I'd look it up and send her a link.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, my search was fruitless. I could visualize the photos I'd taken of the cereus fruit, but evidently I'd never even started a draft of the post or uploaded the photos into the draft. Some of the words I'd intended to use were still floating around in my head, but none had been written.

It was easy to find the photos, which I'd stored on the Internet on August 22, 2014. Let's look at them:

On the left is an unripe cereus fruit, and on the right a ripening fruit. The black things on the ground are dead blossoms, and the holes in the blossom ends of the fruits are where the pistil hung for several days after the other parts of the flower had dropped off. I know it's hard to believe that the darker fruit is the unripe one, but bear with me here.

The stem end of the ripe fruit shown above has fattened up to strengthen its bond with the plant, and the fruit shown below has started to open up. I think it looks like some weird hors d'oeuvre (tomato stuffed with cream cheese and poppy seeds?), or maybe 'Pac-Man' rudely talking with his mouth full:

At last, the final shot, where our Pac-Man appears to be frothing at the mouth:

Steve bravely tasted the gooey substance and said it was quite sweet. I'm grateful that he lived to tell the tale and that Louise told me she hadn't read it.

Am I chagrined that I had not brought this story of plant procreation to light last year? Not especially. I think anyone who is serious about writing has a mental stash of texts, and sometimes there's a fine line between those that have actually been written and those that exist only as phantasms. 

For years I struggled to write a poem about the phenomenon of gardenias blooming in our garden in November and, after a lot of over-intellectualizing along with references to Platonism and Victorian literary theory, I came up with this haiku:

                  Spring bloom in fall month 
                  draws wonder and suspicion
                  yet smells sweet as June's.

- - - - - -
 * This venerable plant has appeared in two previous posts on this blog -- it's cereus (August 2012), and cereus business (November 2013)  -- but, as in so many of my botanical and horticultural ramblings, it merely provided a vehicle for other subjects: procrastination, the importance of theme in writing, the poetry of Thomas Gray, etc.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License