Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Perplexing Poinsettias

Thoughout my entire life, I've lived under the misconception that poinsettias are seasonal plants...annuals, as it were. We see them for sale at Christmas time. Some people give them as gifts and many display them in their homes and businesses. After Christmas, ponsettias seem to disappear. In some cases, we simply wish they would disappear.

I'll never forget the first time I read Robert Fulghum's short story about the poinsettia. I laughed until I cried. My eyes watered so much that I could barely focus on the print.

In his book, "Maybe, Maybe Not", Fulghum describes how every Christmas a poinsetta (not poinsettia) appears on his desk, even though he never buys one. He goes on to tell about the plant's lifespan, comparing it to a sea turtle and cactus. He gives a bit of the history of the poinsettia which was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by the instrusive and overbearing J.R. Poinsett. With undeniable humour, Fulghum recounts his many unsuccessful efforts to dispose of or kill off the plant well after the season has ended.

I suppose what makes this story so amusing is that many of us have been through this. I'm not certain why we tire of the poinsettia more than any other plant. Perhaps it's for the same reason that we don't want to see Christmas trees or decorations into the new year. The time has passed and it seems out of place. I personally feel that as the months go by, the poinsettia, with it's oft vivid blooms should yield to the more delicate pastel hues of spring. Yet, it seems to hang on.

If anyone is interested, there are websites with extensive charts delineating a monthly plan for the care, feeding and reblooming of the poinsettia. I'm certain there are people who have the space, the interest and the inclination to do this. I do not.

Today, I was at my doctor's office. As I sat in the waiting room, looking around, I had to chuckle. I took out my camera to the stares of a half dozen other patients. As I remembered Robert Fulghum's story, I wondered whether seeing this image would make him envious.

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