Monday, October 18, 2010

The Missing Milkweeds

 So how's this for a bit of irony.

In trying out a camera I figured I'd attempt to get some closeups of the milkweeds at the end of my driveway. I love that plant. It's so full of textures: the plump velvety leaves, the sticky milky sap, the rubbery pink flower clusters of spring; the knobbly green pods, the black-and-orange beetles and monarch caterpillars that snack on it in summer; the soft downy fluff that flies from the dried papery pods in fall. So anyway, I got some okay shots, which you can see here. I figured I could see how they turned out and if they were dreck I could go back later to take some more. So here's where the irony comes in.

It's a good thing I took a picture of those milkweed pods because now they're missing! The photos are all I've got left.

On (Canadian) Thanksgiving Sunday I drove out my driveway only to find a car parked crosswise at the end blocking my exit. Some guy was fingering a small pine tree growing at the side of my driveway and his apparent wife or female companion was bagging up the milkweed pods!

I rolled down my window and asked them what they were doing. Alright it was obvious but I had to ask.

The woman laughed sheepishly and said she was just gathering the milkweeds. Yeah, like I said, that was obvious. I could see she'd gathered quite a few in her bag. I asked her to leave some for us thank you. Meanwhile, the man had gone to his car and moved it so I could get out of my own driveway. I wasn't moving. Not till they left. Nope. Not budging.

The woman continued to gather for a few more moments. I really was astounded. Then she got into their car and drove off. So now I hardly have any milkweeds left AT ALL! Like, maybe two or three pods (not plants) at the most. These ones in the photos? GONE!

I wouldn't have minded so much if she'd only taken a few and then driven on down the road and taken a few from another patch and so on and so on leaving no patch destitute. But she pretty much cleaned me out. So now while we wait for the school bus we have no ghostly patches of down to filter the rising morning sun, no fluffy parachutes to launch into the sky. Milkweeds were kind of a fall ritual for me and my kids.

Okay, rant over and now I feel better. It's a minor thing, I know. But sometimes it's the little things in life that get to you, you know? Little things—at once both little and hugely important. And it's the little things a writer adds to a character or to a setting that make for the best stories, I think. So go, and may you sow the seeds of your own milkweeds in your manuscripts.


Kristi Bernard said...

I love the photography. The milkweeds look phenominal.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

THose pictures turned out gorgeous!

Lizann Flatt said...

Thanks Kristi and TerryLynn. I'm glad they turned out too. :>

Ishta Mercurio said...

Gorgeous pictures!

And yes, I understand your irritation. They should have asked! Honestly. On the other hand, she'll probably go and plant them, so there will be more milkweeds somewhere next year. There's a silver lining in there somewhere.

Catherine Austen said...

A woman down the road has her plum tree stripped by strangers each year. My husband once had a mulberry tree on his property and strangers came WITH BASKETS when the fruit was ripe. But milkweed pods? Do you really have to trespass to find milkweed? Nervy. Beautiful photos, though. Better capture a few fluffy cattails before they're stolen, too.

Lizann Flatt said...

I hope she does plant them, Ishta. You're right that will make it a bit better.
With BASKETS, Catherine??? Wow. And now that you mention it, I do have cattails...