Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Saffron Crocus

Tonight's drawing is of a very special Crocus -- Crocus sativus.  

All the approximately eighty species of Crocus plants are native to a large area from coastal and sub-alpine parts of Europe to China and beyond -- in a wide range of habitats including woodland, scrub and meadows.  The genus Crocus is placed botanically in the iris family (Iridaceae).  Crocuses typically have three stamens.  The spice, Saffron, is obtained from the stigmas of Crocus sativus, an autumn/fall blooming species.

The bright orange/red stigmas of Crocus sativus are dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent.  Saffron, long the world's most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia.  A carotenoid dye allows Saffron to impart a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles.  Saffron also has a number of medicinal uses, some of which are being investigated by medical science.

[Copyright Jay Thaxton]
Tonight's special photograph was taken at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina.  My sister, Janet, and her family used to live in Aiken and although I only visited her there once, I did see enough to know that Aiken is a lovely southern town.  If any of you are golf fans, you might know of Aiken from the Masters.  

The photo was taken by a guy named Jay Thaxton.  My friend, Hylott, put me in touch with him and now I receive a daily photo.  I will obviously be showing you more of his excellent work.


And, finally, I want to show you a photo of miz k.d. that I came across recently.  In this picture, miz k.d. is less than one year old.  She is sitting next to a cat I had at that time by the name of Mr. Ginger.  He tolerated miz k.d. and bullied her badly whenever I wasn't around.

If you look closely you will see the black marking on miz k.d.'s head.  When you looked at the black markings from above they formed the letter H -- which I sometimes said stood for "Hell".  I would call her the "cat from Hell" whenever she made messes or got into mischief.  The strangest thing about these markings is that they totally disappeared in the first month after she turned 1 year old.  Since then she has always been completely white.

As for her health, she seems to be managing OK.  With my help, she is eating and drinking reasonable amounts -- she just does not like to walk.  It seems to be very painful for her to do so.  The vet is bringing pain medication for her tomorrow and I am now wondering if it is the kidney infection which is causing her to be in so much pain.  I will keep you informed.

May peace be with you all. 

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