Many people prefer autumn to spring. It’s true. This always comes as a surprise to me though because of how wonderful Spring really is. Like Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, I am always on the look out, not for the longest day of the year, but for the day in early February when the light begins to change. At some juncture when the light has been Winter light for a long time, with something gray in its overtones, there comes a point of inflection, and then the color has yellow in it, sublimated yellow, suppressed yellow, yellow like so much stifled laughter, but yellow just the same, dissolved in the light itself. When you see that light, like watery sun in suspension, then you know, Spring is imminent.
This year I decided on an experiment that I had meant to carry out a year or so earlier, namely, the carrying over of the heliotrope plant (heliotropium arborescens, if you want to be proper). Last year the cat ate the heliotrope. I can’t really blame her. It does smell very much like almond pastry and who wouldn’t want to eat that?
But she regretted it I’m sure, because it gave her gas and she mewed miserably, and was exiled from the Hub’s lap. “Good God, what has that cat been eating?”
The cat and I both knew, of course, but we weren’t talking.
This time I was savvier and kept the heliotrope sequestered in our bedroom on a high table. Kitty still evinced an interest, and had to be removed a time or two, but the heliotrope is still alive as you can see, and even still in bloom.
The only difference between Winter heliotrope and Summer heliotrope seems to be color and strength of scent. The Summer blooms were deep purple, and had a strong pervasive, almond/vanilla/fruity smell. These Winter flowers are pale pale lavender and have a slight smell of powdered almonds. It is the most feminine scent you can imagine, and a good corollary to Apres L’Ondee, although, speaking for myself alone, I prefer the heliotrope these days.
My plan is to take lots of cuttings and get them all going so that in stead of one large heliotrope I have several small ones going at the same time. There is also the matter of heliotrope color. There is a white variety of heliotrope. Lovely, no? I figure that if I plant that with the jasmines, I will have an explosion of scent all at once.
White heliotrope is rather different from purple. Strictly speaking, I prefer the purple variety, but the white does have a very heavy white flower scent sort of the same idea as the purple but more, everything amplified. It probably would go well with jasmine, and maybe a white rose or two.
But this little experiment of mine has proven one thing to me, that sometimes the pallid version of something has almost as much charm as the hi-definition, fully made up one. Sometimes pale is the way to go.