Milkweed on Mulberry Hill

Danger Baby suggested I take kolaches to my dad, his gramps.  This morning I got two prune.  Dad was sitting up in bed in his hospital gown when I arrived.  "I was adopted," Dad announced as he started in on the kolache.  "You think?"  He said he must have been, and chewed. 

He asked if Danger Baby knew he was "here now".  I assured Dad all my sons knew he was in Plano.  Pointing out the window he told me the next building was the church, and that he was living in the parsonage now.  One of his schoolteachers lives there, too, and a nurse, and the "master's daughter".  The church, Dad said, was "First Christian Montessori", where I work. 

Explaining that I work at a private school, not affiliated with a church, over five miles away did not sway Dad.  Instead he said it cost him "a dollar thirty-two to get us out of town last night."  Where were you headed?  To the shopping mall, but he was a bit vague on this part.  He told me again about the $1.32, saying he knew his "benefactor was good for it."

I headed off to my Saturday job at the library.  Driving along listening to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake added to my sense of disorientation.  The first time I remember feeling this way was when my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Peterson, read A Wrinkle in Time aloud with the classroom lights off after lunch.  Tesseracts and the fourth dimension were waving just out of my peripheral vision range. 
Coworkers wanted to know about a plant I had photographed earlier in the week while walking at the Oak Point Nature Preserve. The plant's structure is wonderfully galactic, plus it hosted a monarch caterpillar. In the strange realm where technology, biology, and deep memory dance to Chopin's Polonaise in A Flat Major, Opus 53, this is about a good as it gets.  If I were in charge of the world this plant would be grown on city street medians everywhere!  But what is it?  The answer popped up on a Facebook post by Texas Discovery Garden linking to author Susan Wittig Albert's blog, Lifescapes. It is called an antelope's horn milkweed, Asclepius asperula.

While I sat on the park bench eating my peanut butter sandwich and reading, Dad phoned.  Where was I?  He'd had dinner and wanted to go to bed after spending the day on Mulberry Hill.  Why didn't I come pick him up? 

Instead of trying to convince Dad I was at work and there was a lot of day left, I should have asked what butterflies he saw on Mulberry Hill.  Did the "master's daughter" go along?  Were there caterpillars on the milkweed?

If living in the parsonage with strangers and a benefactor helps Dad feel less misplaced, I'm all for it.  Maybe the schoolteacher will play Chopin on the piano in the minister's parlor.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I am feeling your particular and galactic sadness as a kind of beauty. Or vice versa.


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