Monday, 14 May 2012

Crown Imperial Lily (Frittilaria imperialis)

Frittilaria imperialis (Crown Imperial Lily)
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
I decided to present these drawings of the Crown Imperial Lily in this posting since they do form a crown and we are still in the month of the crowning of Our Lady.  Of course, I don't think this would really be a good choice for a crown as it is rather odoriferous and would drive the friends of Our Lady away instead of drawing them in!

The Crown Imperial Lily (Fritillaria imperialis) is a member of the genus Fritillaria, family Liliaceae.  It is native to a wide stretch from Anatolia across the plateau of Iran to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Himalayan foothills.

Fritillaria imperialis is probably the most surprising-looking spring flower you will ever run across. Each plant has a single, strong stalk, topped by large, hanging blossoms, which are crowned by a fringe of leaves. The fringe on top is said to resemble a crown; it is for this reason that the common name for Fritillaria imperialis is "Crown Imperial". Another impressive feature is that they can grow to be 5 feet (1.5 m) tall! They are very showy and they are also much appreciated for the fact that deer and rodents do not like to eat them. The bad news: they have an unpleasant odour. Thus their other name is “Stink Lily”.

Fritillaria are said to be plants which were growing near Christ's crucifixion leading them to hang their heads in sorrow which they still do today.

Frittilaria imperialis (Crown Imperial Lily)
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009
 This drawing is one I did back in 2009, I think.  At that time I really wasn't sure of the name of the plant.  I had seen a photo of the flowers, which I used as my model, but the name of the plant was not given.  So, I originally called this drawing:  "Funny Flowers".

Frittilaria imperialis (Crown Imperial Lily)
 Here is a photograph showing how the Crown Imperial Lily looks growing in a garden.  Gardeners say that it makes a great addition to the garden because the flowers are so showy, but they all advise that you plant it as far as possible from where people will be walking and sitting!



Recently, a friend sent me an email which included about 20 photos of  various birds -- both common North American birds as well as some of the  more exotic species.  The theme of the grouping was to the effect that God is the great Master Artist as can be seen by any number of created things including, and especially, birds.
The birds shown reminded me of the beginnings of my "life list" that I made back in the days when I would go off on solitary hikes searching for beautiful birds to identify and enjoy.  With my binoculars, my field guide to birds and sticky notes and a pen, I would set off for a leisurely day of trying to spot new birds and trying to learn to identify bird songs.  Let me now introduce you to some of my favourites...

Red Wing Blackbird -- there was once a time when I did not even know what these colourful birds were called, but as I learned to identify them, I spent hours watching them display their colourful epaulets and giving their easily-recognizable territorial call

Cardinal (Male) -- the lakeside home where my oldest sister and her husband lived for so many years was densely populated with Cardinals.  I could sit out on their screened porch and watch their antics for hours -- the males posturing and pretending to fight with one another while the females, so plainly coloured, would get on with the business of eating and feeding their young.

Eastern Blue Jay -- they are one of the more curious birds and also tend to enjoy being around humans.  I guess I had been able to identify Blue Jays for most of my life, along with Robins, Cardinals (I grew up calling them Red Birds) and Mocking Birds (remember, I am from the southern U.S. originally).   

Cedar Waxwings -- these are my absolutely favourite birds.  Their markings are so colourful but neat and their rose-gray plumpness is so lovely to me -- I always want so much to hold them and pat that plumpness, but of course this is not possible!  When I see a berry tree full of these graceful birds in the early fall, the sight has always filled my heart with joy!

Common Kingfishers -- watching these colourful, swift birds diving for fish is an amazing sight.  As they fly in and out of the sunlight, you can observe the rich intensity of their colours.  Interestingly, this is one of the few species where the females is more elegantly coloured than the male. 
My "life list" (the list of birds the birdwatcher has actually seen and identified) had grown very long prior to the onset of my disabilities which ended my birdwatching hikes.  I still enjoy sitting outside and watching the birds, but even in the parks only the most common city birds are likely to be seen.  Occasionally, however, especially during the time of the spring migration, I will hear the beautiful song of the White-throated Sparrow coming from the trees in our courtyard.  The next day they are gone, headed for the deep forests of northern Ontario where they will spend the summer.  The song remains, however, even after they have flown away.


Helping to sort the laundry
Today is the day I sort the laundry in preparation for the arrival of Joycelyn early tomorrow morning.  At that time, she will take my laundry quickly to the laundry room in an effort to beat the Tuesday morning rush for our very limited number of washers and dryers. 

This is one of Suki's favourite days as she loves to help me sort the laundry.  Not that she really does any sorting -- un-sorting is more like it.  But it is an enjoyable game for her and it makes me laugh a lot -- something I thoroughly enjoy.  Each time I throw a new item on one pile or the other, Suki has to attack that item.  Occasionally, she will get buried under some larger item and then I will have the pleasure of watching her antics as she tries to find her way out -- fighting with each section as she pulls it away.  Often I will poke her gently as I watch her moving about under the various items.  This usually leads to an explosion of activity as Suki tries to grab the "creature" that is "attacking" her.  When she finally emerges, the look on her face is priceless -- she is all ready to fight but there is no one to fight with -- just me standing there sorting through laundry!

As for me, I have a somewhat uncertain schedule ahead of me this week.  Two of my friends from Alabama are going to be in Ontario this week.  One of them has meetings in a couple of southern Ontario towns during the week so the plan is that when the meetings are finished, they will drive to my place and spend a couple of days.  The uncertainty is that I am unsure which days of the week these "days" will be!  I think they will probably be here on the weekend by the sound of things -- which would be nice as it is our long weekend for Victoria Day. 

So, at the moment I am trying to keep myself from getting anxious and just trust that God will work everything out for us if we just let Him.  I am, by nature, such a micro-manager and it is very difficult for me to be laid back and easygoing about things when every cell in me wants to get all the information I can and organize it according to how I think best.  But I know that this is "my way" and not God's way.  "Lord, help me to do it Your way, not mine".  At any rate, by the time I post again on Friday, I should know more of the details.

The most exciting thing in my life at the moment, however, is news from Brother Finnian in Ireland.  His community wants to use my drawing of St. John of God carrying a sick boy (the Christ child) to make a banner to be hung with the other banners at the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland.  The only concern at this point is how obvious the pixels will be when my drawing is enlarged?  That will determine what happens next.  So I have told St. John of God that if he wants that drawing to be used then he had better pray that they can get a decent enlargement of it.  If there is too much distortion, of course, they won't be able to use it.  So please pray with me and St. John of God for a good outcome.

Well, it is early still and I have a number of errands to do so I will leave Suki here to sleep and off I will go to get my tasks completed while I still have this "morning energy".  Then I will come home and sort the laundry!

As always, I pray that the peace of God will be with us each and everyone -- today and in the days ahead

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