Please Don’t Let My Wife See This Either

  A while back* I described the joy I take in the gorgeous array of dandelions that presents itself every year at about this time.  More subtle (at least visually) as well as more interesting is the ground ivy which is just beginning its ephemeral (again visually) resplendency.

ground-ivy-2

  To all but those who take pride in their bluegrass and fescue, the lavender blanket is a welcome sign of spring.  That the color lasts but a week or so makes it worthy of a Basho haiku.  He’s long no longer with us so: 

Lush thick lavender.
Funeral blanket for the
Mouse the hawk swooped up? 

  It’s scientific name is Glechoma hederacea and is found just about everywhere.  When in flower, it stands only a bit taller than the newly awakened and as yet uncut lawn.  It is a member of the mint family and spreads even more aggressively than the Derby Julep eponymous component.

  I find it interesting on account of its provenance.  Settlers from Europe brought it to the new world to help in the brew of their beer.  Its use predates hops and was called Alehoof and employed widely by Saxons for the flavoring, clarification, and preservation of their favorite beverage.

  There should be no surprise that it found its way to these parts given the large scale nineteenth century emigration of people from that region of Germany to our area.  Some of my own ancestors, even.  Prost!

  Most of the time when we hear about mankind abetting the migration of some species or other from here to there it is with a more or less negative tone.  Like zebra mussels across the inland waterways, or rabbits to Australia, or (believe it or not) everything not winged or finned to New Zealand.

  Diets of the developed world would be far less kaleidoscopic had it not been for, say, potatoes coming north from Peru, tomatoes and corn to Europe, and ground ivy from our Teutonic ancestors.  And the sun in my every breakfast, oranges.

orange

  Columbus himself brought them to these shores (well close), but they are thought to have originated in China near the South China Sea.  From there they made their way down the Malay Peninsula and then probably with the Indian Ocean current to the east coast of Africa.

  Caravan north to the Mediterranean and thence throughout Europe. In Paris Louis XIV thought so highly of his 3000 orange trees that 1n 1617 he built the Orangerie in the gardens of the Louvre to house them.  In that pre-Versailles palace is no longer a citrus arbor, but rather a display of Monet’s water lilies of incredibly ineffable beauty.  It’s a 360 degree experience and imbues even the most stolid with a wonderful spiritual tumescence.

orangerie

  Funny how stuff works out.  Just think of all that would be lost if we were alone in this universe and collided with an asteroid.  Poof.  Remember, In Heaven there ain’t no beer. 

*5/9/08: Please don’t let my wife see this.

**If you like oranges read John McPhee’s Oranges  It’s fascinating.

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