During a mild late September two years back, I discovered the botanical term remontant–it applies to an iris that graces my perennial bed. The plant reblooms–not every autumn; only when the frost is late and the air and soil stay warm.
October 14th is pretty late for irises, though, even for remontant varieties. Indeed, the weather has been warm, and the leaf color seems to be coming on very slowly and without its usual vividness. Seasons not following their usual chronology. Summer hangs on. I feel a sense of discomfort, though I should be grateful, perhaps–for a longer show of blossoms, for monarch butterflies in October, for lower heating bills and no need to don a heavy coat (or any coat at all).
I live in a house, work in a building, get around mostly by vehicle; much as I want to be earthbound and of earth, much as I value the environment, I inhabit it often more through longing and imagination than in fact.
One way to ponder that paradox or imbalance is through poetry. Sometimes a poem reblooms for me, remontant, in surprise and renewal…I find something in the text or mood that was heretofore unnoticed. I’m thinking now of Sandra Meek’s poem “Biogeography” (in her book by the same name). Here are the last few lines:
In geologic scope, what the ground we’re mesmerized to won’t
let us forget, these mountains are a single
inflorescence, a half-life not more than one
exhalation of stars. This is the ice
we skate, clarity
which brings us down; genesis
of binomials–second naming of all the transitory’s
incarnations, flora to fauna–the craving for return
to the earliest garden, as if again what was left to us
was world enough, and time.
As as I sat on the verge of having it out with mother nature yesterday (something about our morning walk in a Frederick Law Olmstead park at 38 degrees in early enough autumn), we came upon one sorry little lilac (Highland Park has 500 varieties, the largest single collection in the world), and behold but amazingly, or should I say remontantly, there were several flowering panacles, and nature and we were at peace once again.
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Wow! Lilacs? I know butterfly bushes sometimes throw late blossoms, but lilacs!? Ah, nature always has surprises for us (if we look).