Green crystals with occasional snow flakes. As completely un-Morro Bay a thing as I can imagine. And yet, that’s what it makes me think. The flowers are truly miniscule, and the upper layer of green is unusually bright. It’s in the front of a well manicured yard. The yellowish color can be seen almost a block away. I find the picture interesting, but the reality, but the reality I find spectacular. I like to think that the owner selected this plant exactly for the reasons mentioned, though it could be nothing more than an accident. Either way, it would be just as beautiful.
 


This is about as rough and tough as they get. I suppose it’s the spikes around the edge, but also the distain it seems to have for its surroundings. The leaves will dissolve and blow away before this plant takes notice of them. Crab grass will come and go. The plant, whatever it might be called, is definitely there for the long haul.
 


This is the most ornate and most beautiful geranium I have ever seen. The backs of the petals fade into white, which carries over to the front. The red deepens into a dramatic pattern as it nears the bright white center. Anthers in orange and dark beige rest on long filaments, and the flowers cluster into thick irregular bouquets. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There is one plant in a carefully maintained front yard under an overhanging tree, and as you can see, it is ready to burst into many more blooms. I stumble over the words in an attempt to say something meaningful.
 


I’ve wondered what to say about these photographs for quite some time. They are both examples of quite striking blooms, and they exist, or existed no more than two feet from each other. There are only inches between their outstretched branches, and one wonders if they won’t grow together before long. Both blooms, to my mind, are absolutely unique. I can’t begin to explain how they work, if those are leaves or petals around the one, or if a bloom can be a flower without having petals. Anyway, since I had no answer to any of these questions, I decided the real story must be the person who put them together.


It was obviously no accident. Or, at the very least, it was a very fortuitous accident. The plants are perfectly placed on a short uphill slope, just to the right of the porch. The rest of the yard is very well maintained. I use this yard as a place to slow down and rest. To notice what’s going on with the other plants. There’s even a small stream of dark colored creek rocks winding down the hill. I used it to walk up the hill when no one was looking to take these pictures.
 


What energy. Complicated flowers, complicated leaves, and what appears to be spent poppy stems. Flowers and leaves are interesting, but these seem hyper interesting. All with no discernible pattern. This is the opposite of controlled. It seems like sheer exuberance. It’s hard to put together sentences to capture it. There’s a point where the possible takes over and the ordinary is lost. The flowers on my desk are neat and orderly, I don’t think of them as ordinary, exactly, but these are a riot of seeming ecstasy. For all the precision of planning, we need to allow things now and then simply to live out their inner nature. These plants know what they’re doing, even if they have no idea.
 


Time to take a deep breath. There is nothing happier than a bunch of geraniums. There are more spectacular flowers, of course, but nothing that warms the heart quite like a geranium. I have felt that since I was a child. I wonder if it's their clustering, their casualness or their inherent imperfection. Not every geranium, but most geraniums, say something, have always said something that draws me to them.


These flowers are about one block away from each other. Each doing its special thing. Reddish and purplish, each on a dark green base. It’s hard for me to pass them without my heart being moved. I almost always stop to rest where I find geraniums. I try unsuccessfully to figure out what attracts me to them, or them to me. I doubt that I’m of any special importance to geraniums, but who knows the heart or how it works? There are so many questions, but also so many beautiful geraniums.
 


It’s hard to tell what or how much is going on here. I have seen some rather amazing botanical things and slowly figured out what I thought was the pattern behind them. But this picture disturbs me because I don’t really have any idea beyond the blue petals which seem to make sense. The rest is beyond me. Are those leaves in the shape of caterpillars? And is that a seed pod in the middle? Everything is turned inside out and end before beginning. Maybe there’s a sensible explanation that I’ve overlooked. But what on earth could it be?
 


Perhaps I’m too easily pleased, but this flower, if indeed it’s called a flower, reminds me of 4th of July fireworks, bursting and then bursting again. Its setting is decidedly ordinary, but its form is remarkable. I know nothing about the plant that produced it, it seems buried beneath pumpkin leaves — you can see just a hint of pumpkin at the top — but I’m glad that I stopped to look. A few days later, it wasn’t there. Only the memory of it and lazy leaves soaking up the sun.
 


On the 10th of May I posted something about an unusual variety of very common flowers in these parts: Yellow Poppy. I said “poppy” because there was exactly one at that time. The poppies here, of course, are golden poppies. California is the Golden State. The yellow one was near the back entrance of the library. What I never showed was how it grew into a mass of yellow poppies that were clearly visible a block away.

Last month, on the 23rd and 24th, I posted Before… and After about a strip of poppies growing in a six inch space between the sidewalk and a fence. The two posts showed them new and then almost gone. Poppies grow with determination and then die. But they return year after year with equal vengeance, and have done so, I imagine, almost forever.

Today’s picture shows what’s left of the yellow poppies. It shows how wildly they grew and how completely they died, except for the spate of seed pods strewn at their wouldbe feet. The pods are full of life. After the first rains next fall we should expect many more yellow poppies.
 


Could more aluring color be squeezed into a tiny space? There is so much intensity in these things between the dirt and the vibrant colors that it seems unrealistic. The old and the new strangely coexist. But in reality it is more a contest between the ordinary and science fiction, between color edged green and neon lights. What bug in his right mind would fly or walk past these glaring advertisements and not stop to consider them?
 


These flowers must be relatives. They each have the look of tissue pressed into the shape of a flower, with some daubs of pain on the upper ones. They remind me, as I said in White is for…, Veterans Day Flowers. The things worn on your lapel (when most people had lapels) to show that you contributed to a veterans fund. I haven’t seen any here since I was young, but they are still very popular in England.


How do they manage to get so crinkled? Is it because there is just too much petal for the space allowed? Or is it more complicated than that? The most beautiful things have a tendency to look fake, or so I’ve been told. That’s what my oldest son explained to me when he was seven or eight. He looked across the Klamath River at a stunning display of plants and hills, took a deep breath and said, “It looks fake, doesn’t it?” He meant that as the highest possible compliment.

Well, I said that flowers like these look like tissue pressed into the shape of flowers, which means they must look fake. But fake can be both pejorative and breathtakingly beautiful.
 


This is an unusual bloom. The petals on the front side are bright white, but on their backsides they are deep yellow. You can see them here in various stages of development. The petals seem to curl open. From the ground view they are yellow, from above they are white. I was baffled by them at first. More daisies, I thought. But the yellow. Where is the yellow coming from? It turns out that the better question might be where is the white coming from? I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on. Is it just a twist in the DNA? Were they once yellow and white before merging? Or is this more than a tiny accident? Are bugs attracted to what seems like an optical illusion? Sometimes flowers bring more questions than answers. Sometimes daisies are not daisies at all.
 


From a completely neglected piece of ground, this refusal to accept defeat. A good gardener might have already dug this up and planted something worthwhile, but there is no gardener, no watering hose, no nothing. Just the stunning beauty of four flowers that look like astroemeria and the possibility of continuance. How much we could learn from plants if we just knew how to listen.
 


A short time ago in Lessons I posted a picture of a windblown white flower with a beautiful yellow center. It was the only flower in a small plant hugging the ground. Today I passed the same plant but to my surprise found it filled with blooms in alternating colors: white and lavender. So far as I can tell, they are growing from the same root. It’s not the first time I’ve seen different flowers, at least different colored flowers, growing from the same plant. In fact, it seems like a persistent theme. I love the windblown nature of the white one, but I also love the lavender color of its sister, or perhaps only friend. Together, alternating, they are stunning.
 


These are obviously geraniums, though in fact there’s only a 50/50 chance they’re not pelargoniums, which look exactly like geraniums. But with a half-million flowers currently cataloged, does it really matter what we call them? Whatever it is, it’s bound to be wrong, if not to everyone, then at least to the experts. They are spilling over the same wall as the flowers yesterday. In the background you can see a piece of the Rec Hall of St. Vincent’s Church. At least I’m calling it a Rec Hall. They probably call it something like Community Hall, or Community Center. I’ve had lintel soup for lunch and chicken for dinner there. Catholics tend to be warm hearted and outgoing people. At least to me they do. Three of my neighbors attend services there. These geraniums grew up and over the wall in a spectacular, if not manic spurt of growth. Is it prayer driven or fertilizer driven? It seems like the happiest wall in town. Flowers and flowers and flowers, the way all churches should be in summer.
 


Spilling over the church wall. I thought I knew the name of this flower. But when I looked it up, it was a different flower. At some point in the future we should be able to submit photographs to Google and find out what we’re looking at. That seems like something to avoid, but sometimes we really just want to know what we’re looking at. My neighbor spends a lot of time at garden centers and comes home with the names of plants that seem almost made up. I suppose I’ve spent my entire life trying not to pay close attention to the names of plants. They seem arbitrary and about to change. We might see a hundred bugs in a day, or a hundred flowers and not know the exact name of any of them. Bugs and flowers are bugs and flowers.

Louis XIV was the founder of the Observatoire de Paris in the year 1667. If I remember correctly, the king visited the observatory run by Gian Domenico Cassini, a name I owe to Google, and looked through the telescope. It was focused on something interesting and Cassini gave him the name of it. The king looked again, looked cautiously around him, and then said rather quietly, “Yes, but what’s its real name?”

My college French teacher had a theory about that question. Usually the story is repeated by anti-royalists to indicate what a moron the king was. But her theory… The more I try to remember her theory the less it comes back to me. She was a great believer in royalty. But that's all I remember. It's rather hard to think of Louis XIV as an idiot if you can't quite remember why he wasn't.
 


In January I wrote something in First Signs of Weakness that predicted the death of a weed that had grown too suddenly and far too large. It was taller than the fence. It started to turn brown, but that must have been something temporary like a cold. There are now five of them showing the same growth cycle in a staggered row. They are starting to look like trees.

I have tried to ignore them. But today I caught a flash of color and felt like I did when I first noticed a Nasturtium Flower and thought why on earth would nasturtiums need flowers? Well, the gigantic weed has occasional flowers not on the surface, but almost hidden inside. I hesitate to call them beautiful, though they do have a lovely color, because they associate themselves with something almost hideous. But if you see just the flower and ignore all the rest, I suppose they might be rather good looking.

I don’t have much more to say. I’m hoping the gardener will work up the courage to chop these down and leave me with a vague memory of large weeds, so that passing this area becomes more comfortable, more relaxing. But for the record, here’s the flower.
 


Here is a tiny portion of a truckload of fire wood with a black chord that doesn’t seem to belong there. Some buds grow into trees, get cut down, dried out, and then split and cut into fireplace or stove sized pieces to keep us warm or make it possible to cook. It’s the same process as weeds in the garden, but with more time involved and much greater utility. If properly replanted, the process goes on forever, or close enough for humans who pass away with rapidity.

Years ago I knew a man who made his living cutting down orange groves. Where once there were orange trees as far as the eye could see, now there are houses and shopping centers, and asphalt highways, cars, and pollution. His crew uprooted the trees, stripped the branches and then cut mountains of firewood. He saved all the wood from his last job and had it trucked up to his house in the hills, and stacked neatly in rows until he had his own personal mountain of firewood. Orange tree firewood. It was difficult to like this man, but of course someone else would have done the job if he hadn’t. Orange trees were not the future.

He had enough firewood in his mountain to burn fires every day for years. And that’s exactly what he did. He lit a fire and kept it burning all day, every day, through hot and cold, because he adored the scent and the crackle of orange firewood. He did not replant. The process will not go on forever. We eat oranges from Florida and Texas now. I’m guessing we also get them from Mexico and elsewhere. At least, so long as they continue to grow oranges. So long as they resist the urge to uproot the trees. So long as the last tree does not become firewood.
 


Through a tangle of leaves or blades, not perfect, but heading in that direction. A single flower that seems almost as if someone picked it somewhere else and placed it here. I found it in the front planter of the library as I walked home with nothing near but this bed of leaves or blades. I walked there again today and there must be hundreds of them. Timing, as they say, is everything.
 


This plant, and I could be wrong, seems very clever. It’s rather unpredictably, but semi-permanently in bloom. In other words, it seems to flower now and then, here and there, in a process that keeps it modestly in bloom for lengthy periods of time. Here a flower, there a flower, a kind of blooming that is nothing less then completely controlled. It is also, though this probably has nothing to do with it, very pretty. It gives the bees and bugs a chance to learn where it is, and to keep being there when they remember. Something for everyone, almost all the time. It has looked the same, but different, every time I passed. It’s a lot more clever than I am.
 


Nothing pretty about these pictures. Zucchini on top, summer squash on the bottom. At least that's my guess. I post them because there’s something we should remember. All fruits and vegetables, unless I missed something, begin as flowers. Some we eat before they mature. Lettuce, for example. But to plant and eat lettuce and related vegetables, we must harvest them before they are mature and allow a portion of the crop to go to seed. The seed is next year’s crop, and it comes from allowing the lettuce to flower. Apples and oranges come from trees covered in tiny, but beautiful flowers. Eventually, the base of the flowers swell into fruit. And closer to the ground, zucchini and summer squash, if that's what they are, follow the same pattern.


These pictures were taken in a stretch of ground between the sidewalk and a fence defining the limits of a trailer park. I suppose today that would be a mobile home park. I watched the lady who maintains this stretch plant little plugs of plants in empty spaces. It seems like yesterday. They grew at a ferocious pace. The squash have huge leaves that hide the flowers, and the zucchini have long, straight stems that give the flowers full sunshine. If she does what she did last year, she’ll let them grow until harvest time and then pull them up. They are temporary, but they are also food bearing. Eventually, she will plant watermelon to replace them. She has a very tiny farm along the sidewalk.

When I was in school I was taught that a big differences between plants and animals is mobility. Animals move, plants are stationary. You had to know that for the test. But the teacher was also a realist. He said that if an apple falls to the ground and a horse eats it, and he doesn’t poop for a hundred yards, then the seeds of that apple tree have moved one hundred yards. So, fruits and vegetables exist to give plants what they otherwise lack: mobility. Some fruits are so volatile that the horse is lucky to make it ten yards. Others go down and stay down with such ease that the horse can run and frolic all day before planting seed in manure wrapped piles. And it all starts with flowers.
 


I think I like the accidents better than the intentional photographs. As if my subconscious is trying to communicate with me. This appears to have almost nothing to say, though the word “delete” is troubling. Maybe that’s the message. It reminds me of Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is more.” In fact, less becomes so much more that words seem unable to capture it. Flowers are easy by comparison, and family snapshots, and pictures of walls and buildings. But remove the flowers and the family members. Remove everything down to the background, and then the background itself with all or most of the details, and then tell me what’s left. If you say nothing, then you’ve missed the point.
 


I’ve posted several pictures of this flower before, but again I could not resist. It’s growing inches from the ground in a neglected garden. As beautiful as ever, it demonstrates a determined effort to survive, if not in this generation, then in the next. Flowers, beautiful or otherwise, have a wisdom that humans lack for the most part. They prioritize. Every last ounce of energy is used to flower. As I’ve said many times before, we could learn a great deal from flowers if we just paid attention.
 

Like squinting into the sun, except this is the nightlight at the back entrance to the market. I seldom walk this way at night, but I came home late and to avoid cars racing around the corner and crashing into a slow, darkly clad pedestrian, I hugged the sidewalk near the corner. It seemed strangely mysterious at the time, because I walk this way almost every day in sunlight and never once noticed it.
 


This strikes me in many ways as a very ordinary photograph. But there’s some about it that really connects with me. It has a nearness and a hardness about it. A sort of barren patch surrounds it. Green mixed with orange and then bright orange and yellow flowers. Vertical and tilted. That’s a lot of things, but not exactly what connects me to it. It’s not the first thing that caught my eye or the most seemingly important, but there’s something about it. Actually, I think it’s the color. The orange and yellow..

When I was young the decorator made an orange seat cover or pad for a Danish chair in my bedroom — a chair by Hans Wegner, not that anyone knew who Hans Wegner was back then. I asked why he chose orange, and he said, “Because orange is your favorite color.” My mother told him that. It was news to me. My mother knew things that others didn’t, so I was careful not to say that it wasn’t. I don’t remember giving it any thought in truth. And while I’ve never done much with orange, I’ve always held it in a kind of reverence. Orange tapering into yellow. I’ve always wondered if she just made that up or if there was something to it. She didn’t say orange and yellow, but of course she knew that orange tapers into yellow, just like the flowers of this plant. It’s a vibrant combination, so unlike anything else. Purple tapering into lavender is nice, but not the same. It’s not orange. Not yellow.

If we pay attention we can learn things. I’ve learned something without quite understanding what I’ve learned about color and preferences and messages received second hand from the distant past. Life is not just more of this and more of that. Things fit together, the parts reach for each other in ways we endeavor to understand. Even in the corner of a churchyard. Even in a random photograph.
 


In November of last year I wrote something about a foxglove in Crept Through the Fence that grew many feet long to squeeze through a ramshackle fence at the Yoga Center before turning heavenward and blooming. That plant has long since died and gone, but this one is for sale outside Albertsons. It’s less than two feet tall in a plastic container, very reasonably priced. It has the same color and the same markings as the one I wrote about. There was a certain chemistry, I think. We felt like old friends running into each other at the market. They are not only poisonous, as it turns out, but they also have a tendency, it seems, to produce mild but pleasant waves of insanity.
 


From a piece of the abandoned fence at the former Yoga Center. (See The Yoga Center and Life at the Old Yoga Center.) The right combination of sun and warmth after a good rain forced this fence to bloom and get ready to bloom and bloom again. It wasn’t something they could dig up and replant, so they left it, along with the makeshift fence. It’s not visible from the street, you have to walk down the driveway of the neighboring property and peer over trash cans. But there it is. And that’s what matters. The people have left the building, but the spirit, to some extent, remains. Namaste.
 


It’s a sad time of year in human terms. The poppies have grown themselves to death. It’s hard to see, but the dead zone is covered in long spike-like seed pods, which means they haven’t actually grown themselves to death, but only reached the end of their cycle. They were little blooms along the bottom of the fence when they started, green and lush with bright golden flowers. Now they’re two feet into the sidewalk and dying rapidly. But the seed pods, not the flowers or the greenery is what it was always about. The next generation of poppies. The next abundance of surprising gold. Poppies were so plentiful that we thought they would last forever. And perhaps they will, but one season at a time. We’re a lot like flowers, all of us, though we spend our time firmly believing that we’re not. We are unique, but in actuality, only one in a very long chain of life.
 


Things growing in a six inch gap between an old fence and the sidewalk. Some of them are very healthy California poppies. I’ve avoided taking the hundred or so photos I might have taken of beautiful poppies because I’ve taken so many already. But the seeds of last year’s poppies were knocked out on the sidewalk and swept back toward the fence. The plants were pulled up and nothing was left. They grew back as if they’ve been living there for years, which I suppose they have. The thing is, they are also the largest poppies I’ve seen so far.


So what the hell, I snapped another picture of poppies, and then one really enormous one a few feet down, and in the neighbor’s yard, a tiny one that is crinkled by comparison.


If you allowed yourself, you could see nothing but poppies all day long. Until that strange moment — it hasn’t happened yet — when there isn’t a single poppy to be found. I’m not counting the days exactly, but I am fearful that the poppies’ time is coming.
 


This rather unusual flower is growing under the staircase just outside my door. If I had to guess, I’d say my neighbor planted it. Whether he knew what was coming or not is something else. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a daisy-like flower with such an ornate center, or one that appears to be in black and yellow. It’s a single flower at the end of a stem that seems too long, leaning ever so slightly into the sun. It seems like the perfect plant to help decorate an ornate garden — not too much, too many, or too few. For the moment, we have exactly one.
 


This is the upper half of my receipt for a senior coffee at McDonalds. McDonalds is at the turnaround point of my daily walk. What you don’t see is 88¢ plus 7¢ tax, or 95¢ for a small cup of coffee. Of course, an enormous cup is $1.00 plus 8¢ tax and comes with a free refill. So it makes no sense to save 12¢ plus tax on a small cup of coffee, except that I don’t usually drink even a full cup. I savor the first half and throw the second half away. It’s hard to explain, but I seem to enjoy ordering a senior coffee. The receipt struck me as odd because when we traveled to Glendora years ago to see Amie’s mother — Amie was my girlfriend for twenty long years — I came up with excuse after excuse to wait for them at Cafe 222 while they shopped. Shopping with them was more horrible than death itself. It was a wonderful coffee house located at 222 N. Glendora Ave., and I loved the name. They also had a very engaging business card. I Googled that address a few minutes ago and discovered it has since become The Red Lounge Hookah & Crepe Cafe. Could I make that up? It’s strange how little things like the number on a receipt are capable of calling up troves of memory. If I try to remember anything about Glendora, it’s mostly bad. Though the fault may be mine and not Glendora's. But the number 222 makes me remember only warm, happy thoughts. If I could just figure out how that works and write it down, I think it would be a lesson we could all benefit from.
 

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