Never before with a hellebore

[In a would-you-could-you-on-a-train manner this post will ride hell-bent for leather all over the place, so be forewarned.]

The Dallas Arboretum cured my madness. Walked all around this morning taking photos and working out the Tristan und Isolde kinks. I came under the spell of hellebore in beds both shady and sunny. 

hellebore Look up hellebore at Dictionary.com

late 14c., from O.Fr. ellebore, from L. elleborus, from Gk. helleboros, perhaps meaning "plant eaten by fawns," from Gk. ellos/hellos "fawn" + bora "food of beasts," from bibroskein "to eat," from PIE base *gwere-"to swallow." Among the ancients, the name given to various plants of both poisonous and medicinal qualities, reputed to cure madness.

Perhaps the plant was eaten by fauns, not fawns.  I never before saw a hellebore nor Nijinsky dancing to Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun". Nor Nureyev neither, no matter how many negatives that is. I was as spellbound by the flowers as by the classic ballet film from one hundred years ago that beckoned me from my search.

Something about these plants feels very ancient even before I learn their name. Is it the dusty, slightly faded colors? The quality of porcelain? The chalky '68 rouge on the withered cheeks of the junior high art teacher two years shy of retirement telling eighth-graders how to carve plaster of Paris into della Robbia rondels?

Dallas Arboretum test garden

Hellebore plants
 are known as Lenten roses even though they are not part of the rose family.  
Hellebore for Lent....

Hellebore for lemons... also one lime, a clove of garlic, lite mayo, a red bell pepper, Tillamook pepper jack, today's newspaper, black olives... wait, wait, this is a grocery list!

Hellebore for leather? 

Hell-bent for leather. 

Hell-bent? Hell for leather? All in a lather? 

What do these mean? Am I stuck in a dream? Why are my former in-laws in this dream? Well, that last one would take many more blog posts and an interview with Isadora Duncan to explain!

  • Hell-bent--with reckless determination; at full speed.
  • Ride hell-for-leather--early use of this phrase by Kipling in 1888 to mean desperately and/or swiftly causing a horse's skin to lather.

Now I'm all in a dither about daffodils, narcissus, and jonquils. Every spring Dad and I used to wonder about the distinction. We could never remember from year to year.  This year Dad is beyond care, and I must dither on alone. 
The library regular wants to check out two DVDs from the NEW shelf, but the circulation system allowed only one. We josh around a bit, both of us having mellowed over the years. He semi-jokingly claims I put the kibosh on his movie plans. I tell him I researched "kibosh" once, but now I've forgotten its origins. The regular says if I researched it I should remember.Trouble is, I joshed, my memory was kiboshed and my brains are goulash.  

kibosh Look up kibosh at Dictionary.com

1836, kye-bosk, in slang phrase put the kibosh on, of unknown origin, despite intense speculation. 

goulash Look up goulash at Dictionary.com

1866, from Hungarian gulyáshús, from gulyás "herdsman" + hús "meat." In Hungarian, "beef or lamb soup made by herdsmen while pasturing."

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


Kim said...

I thought your grocery list was a recipe...silly moi!

Collagemama said...

Up until today's newspaper, I hope!

Kathleen said...

I need to eat a lot of hellebore and fast! It's Fat Tuesday!! I'm hell-bent for hellebore, too!


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