Sunday, 3 May 2015

Flame Tree -- Delonix regia

"Flame Tree Blossoms -- Delonix regia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Delonix regia is a very distinctive tree with large, bright red/orange flowers. The genus name is derived from two Greek words: delos, meaning conspicuous, and onyx, meaning claw, referring to the appearance of the spectacular flowers. The species name of regia is Latin for royal. The tree is commonly cultivated in the tropics and subtropics, including the Caribbean and south Florida, for its ornamental value, but is under increasing threat in its native environment (Madagascar) due to habitat destruction. 

Flame Tree -- Delonix regia -- in full bloom
The Flame Tree, which produces striking, flame-coloured flowers, is also known as Royal Poinciana (named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, an 18th century governor of the French West Indes). It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful tropical trees in the world. For many years, this tree was placed in the genus, Poinciana before being moved to Delonix, a genus of flowering plants in the pea (or bean) family of Leguminosae.

As the trees mature, they develop broad umbrella-shaped crowns, and are often planted for their shade-giving properties. The delicate, fern-like leaves are composed of small individual leaflets, which fold up at the onset of dusk. This tree also produces brown, woody seed pods that reach lengths of up to 60 cm; they turn reddish-brown to almost black when ripe. In the Caribbean Islands the pods are used for fuel.  It is here, as well, that the pods are called "woman's tongue" because of the rattling noise they make as they strike against one another when the wind blows through the tree. Please don't let me get started on what I think about that!  

The individual flowers have four, spoon-shaped spreading scarlet or orange-red petals. Most of the blossoms also have one slightly upright, larger petal (the standard) which is marked with yellow and white although I have seen photos which show the flowers without "the standard". As you can see from the drawing above, I chose to omit "the standard". In both versions the flowers contain the same basic colours -- lovely reds, oranges and yellows. Of course, as you can imagine, I enjoyed once again using my favourite section of the palette.

Portions of the information given above was taken from various Internet sources.


Ronàn discovering the pleasure of playing with one's toes and fingers -- 
especially when no soother is available!

Braden discovering the pleasure of playing hide 'n seek behind mom's curtains!



Suki sitting in the sunshine as she enjoys the first warm
days promising that summer is finally on its way!
You should hear the conversations I have with this cat almost every morning after she awakens me.  I am sure I sound quite mental!

I sit on the side of the bed while Suki sits, ever hopeful, at my feet and I tell her such things as:  "well, Missy, just because I am awake that doesn't mean you are going to get fed.  I think I will just sit here for an hour or so before I even consider opening that can of food you want so badly!"

If I am feeling particularly grumpy and in more pain than usual, I may do something like stick my finger in her face and say, with mock anger, "I am sick and tired of having to get up according to your schedule and not mine.  From now on, I am going to put you in your carrying case and stick you in the closet before going to bed.  You will be stuck in there all night and I won't be able to hear a single meow.  So how do you like that?!"

By this time, Suki, ignoring everything I have been saying, has gotten up onto the bed next to me and is busily rubbing her chin against my hand while emitting a very loud purring sound. She knows all my threats are idle ones.  As well, she knows that all that rubbing and purring is more effective than any words would be in getting me to give in to her request.

So, up I get and into the kitchen I go with Suki close by my heels. It's time for the kitty to have her breakfast.  Then I will be allowed to prepare my own breakfast in peace.

Otherwise, things are pretty much the same with me.  I did have two unexpected visitors this past week.  One was an acquaintance I hadn't seen in about 10 years.  It was wonderful to see her again and catch up on a bit more of our news than we would have time to share in our occasional emails.

The next day I had a visit from a dear friend who actually was instrumental in getting me an apartment in the co-op where I now live when it opened 18 years ago. This is the best place I have ever lived and is an excellent apartment in which to spend my "golden years"!  My friend and I have stayed in touch through the occasional email or phone call, but it was wonderful to be able to finally sit down together again and just visit.

I expect this coming week to be a quiet one; however, after that there are all sorts of medical tests and appointments scheduled for the rest of May.



"Icon -- I am the Vine", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 revised

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. ... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”  John 15:1-8

Throughout mankind's history, people have continually yearned to be rooted in something greater than themselves -- something that gives our short, difficult lives meaning and purpose.  So many systems have been "devised" over the centuries and most of these continue to evolve in some form or another into belief systems that have value and merit.

I was born into a family whose tradition was Christianity and, except for a brief fling with Buddhism in the 60s, I have never seriously considered being a part of any other tradition.  Of course, there are plenty of people who believe that my tradition within Christianity -- Roman Catholicism -- is a branch long ago broken off the vine that is Christ!

Be that as it may, even though I have carefully studied most of the major religious traditions currently practiced in the world, I have never really desired to turn my back on my faith -- even when things look very dark and God seems very far away.  

The reason for this is simple:  I have longed all my life to know a parent's love -- a father's love; a mother's love. These were not really available to me.  However, in spite of my negative experiences, I still feel that child within me yearning for love. Christ promised us love. In fact, He taught us that God is Love -- not Judge, Torturer, Sadist or Killer, but Love.

So, when I read the verses in today's Gospel, I hear Him saying:  "I am the Vine; you are a branch in the Vine" or, to put it another way, "I am Love and if you remain in Me, you will be rooted and grounded in Love forever."

May all of creation catch a glimpse of this Love in the way we live our lives and in the love we show to others -- thereby being "attached" to Divine Love for all eternity.


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