Sunday, 11 January 2015

Clinanthus incarnatus ("Andean Amaryllis")

"Clinanthus incarnatus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014



Clinanthus incarnatus (formerly Stenomesson incarnatum), of the Family Amaryllidaceae, is native to the Andes from Ecuador to Peru where it inhabits grasslands between 7,500 to 12,000 ft. It has long, strap-like leaves that can grow to 2 feet in length. At some point between late spring and early autumn, the plant sends up a large, 2-foot flower spikes and 4 to 8 trumpet-shaped blooms, almost 4 inches long, which spill out one at a time. The flower color can appear more like salmon or coral, depending on the lighting and temperature, and each petal has a grey stripe at its tip. I am sure that there must be several local names for this beautiful plant; however, thus far, I have been unable to discover any of them. So, for the moment, among friends, I am going to simply call it the Andean Amaryllis! 

Of interest to some of you will be the still somewhat unsettled nature of the proper name of this stunning plant. For rather technical reasons, Stenomesson incarnatum was transferred to Clinanthus incarnatus in the year 2000. C. incarnatus was first described in 1931 by the legendary Harvard field botanist J. Francis Macbride in his Flora of Peru Series. It was he who placed this plant in the species Stenomesson (from the Greek 'stenos' meaning "narrow" and 'messos' meaning "middle", referring to the shape of the flowers). In the year 2000, Alan Meerow, et. al., after looking at “DNA sequences”, moved certain plants previously located in the Stenomesseae Tribe into a separate group with the name of Clianthus (from Latin 'klitus' meaning "a mountainous declivity" and 'anthos' meaning "a flower" in reference to the downward inclination of the flowers). At this point there are still those who make such comments as “we await wider usage of this name before changing our listing.”!

I realize that this is a lot of technical information, but I must admit that I do find it fascinating.  Perhaps it comes from the pleasure I derived during those years that I was a library cataloguer and was able to determine the correct "home" on the shelves for each and every book, audio-visual, computer disc, etc. that came into our library.

As for the art work, I must admit that I did enjoy drawing these striking flowers.  They are such a lovely coral-orange with that unexpected grey stripe on each petal.  All of you regulars know how much I enjoy working with flowers that range in colour from red -- red-orange -- orange.  This particular shade of red-orange is so beautiful that I have already started looking for another flower (other than a rose) somewhere in the world that has a similar colour.  Should I find something, I am sure you will be seeing it in a posting sometime in the months ahead.    




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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki waiting beside
my sick bed!

This, I fear, will be a somewhat different section today! No, Suki hasn't had to make a return trip to the vet leaving me tired, poorly organized and unable to gather my thoughts into coherent prose ... rather, I managed to somehow, somewhere come into contact with one of these awful flu viruses -- possibly when I went out for a visit last Saturday.  

The flu symptoms themselves exploded into my quiet life this past Monday evening and the reverberations continue until this very morning with the coughing and the increased joint pain probably being the worst of the lot.  And, no, it wasn't Suki's fault in any way!

In fact, if there is one thing I can say about Suki, it is that she has turned out to be a terrific nurse maid!  Not only has she obviously been worried about me, she has insisted in spending hours with me -- whether I have been resting in my bed or in my big recliner.  Even when I have asked her politely to go somewhere else to sleep as my legs are falling asleep from the weight of her, she, loyally and with extreme kitty-cat dedication, has refused to leave her post! Of course, every so often my severe coughing spasms start up again and these seem to work wonderfully well in convincing Suki that it is time for her to move to another place in order to continue her sleeping.

Speaking of sleeping, Suki, out of deep concern for my well-being I'm sure, has allowed me to sleep, undisturbed, until 6 a.m. each morning this past week!  Considering that this is 45 mins. to an hour later than her usual wake-up time for me, I am sure that you can recognized, just as I do, what a terrific nurse maid Suki has been!  

Of course, once she has me awakened, she does still expect me to prepare her food first thing and she tends to get her nose out of joint just a bit when I choose to do other things such as tending to my own coughing, sneezing and sinus issues before feeding her. In fact, now that I think about it, Suki does seem to rather still insist that she be fed at her regular times no matter whether I have just drifted off for a nap or whatever!  

Seriously, what can I say, Suki is a cat after all and, for a cat, she has truly done remarkably well at setting aside her own desires in certain small ways so that I might have things just a tiny bit easier. I consider such behaviour by what is basically a "wild" animal (whose only real concerns are meant to be food, water, sufficient rest and reproduction) to be serious signs of bonding with another creature.

As for me, I am gradually beginning to mend and certain symptoms have begun to subside.  I continue to have unpleasant coughing spells, weakness, difficulty sleeping and lack of appetite due, in part, to my inability to taste whatever I am eating; however, I trust that in due course these symptoms will also subside.  

I have heard a number of people say over the past few months that this year's flu shot seems to be less effective than usual and now I know, firsthand, that this must be true.  I have been flu-free for a number of years now (thanks to the flu shot, I believe) and I must say that it has truly been a shock to be reminded of just how unpleasant, persistent and debilitating a flu virus can be.  

Of course, I really don't blame those who prepare the flu shot each year as we all know what devious, little critters viruses really are -- always seeking new mutations in order to find a way around, under or over our defenses so that they can grab a new host organism in which to reproduce.  And since, if they overwhelm the defenses of the host organism, they will probably kill it, these viruses, and their offspring, also need to find an effective way to "move on"  to another "host organism".  This is what happened to me, no doubt, when I went out for my visit Saturday a week ago -- someone was there allowing these little nasty "bugs" to move onto me!  Rotten little squatters!    



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FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD



"Icon -- The Baptism of Christ", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 Rev.


Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”  
            Matt. 3:13-17



The Scripture takes us back to the Baptism of Christ and so I am using one of the same icons I used during Advent. In that posting, I was writing about St. John's comment regarding his not being worthy to untie the thongs of the sandals of Christ.  In today's posting, however, I want to focus on those wonderful words that were heard when Christ, after being baptized by St. John, came up from the watery "tomb" of the Jordan River.

"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."

On occasion I have sat and tried to imagine the effect that hearing these words would have had on the people around Christ -- what would they have thought?  How might these words have affected their own lives?  What might have happened to them as a result of hearing these words?  It makes for an interesting meditation as I consider the reactions of people like St. John the Baptist, himself, with all his own questions; the Mother of Christ (she, too, could have been there with her Son); the serving woman or man who had come to listen, to repent or, perhaps, to scoff; the spies that had been sent by the religious leaders and so on.

Today, however, I was more affected by the thought of what it would mean to any one of us to hear one or both of our parents actually say those words to us.  What a gift that would be for any child, at any point in their lives, to hear one or both parents say for no other reason than simply out of love: "You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased".  Can we imagine the deep healing that would no doubt occur in the heart, mind and soul of such a fortunate child at hearing their parent(s) say something that, in effect says: "I totally accept you just as you are and love you unconditionally no matter what you have done or haven't done. You, in and of yourself, are totally sufficient.  I love you without reservation and I rejoice in you."

Isn't this what we are hoping to hear the Father say to us one day?  I know I am.  I hope for this even though after living all these years, I am more aware than ever that I cannot please Him by doing things, by accomplishing stuff.  The only hope I have, it seems to me, is to try my best to love as He does -- even though I fail over and over again.  Perhaps, if I just keep trying, I, too, will one day hear these marvelous words as I come up from my own tomb:

"You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased."

May we all desire to love as we are loved by the God who is Love so that at the end there will be nothing left but Love.

Amen.

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