Saturday, June 14, 2008
bougainevillea, bat, pusher
Now is the season when bougainevillea scrambles over white walls of houses and gardens in Mediterranean countries. Beside our hotel swimming pool there is a an entire wall covered with a red variety. I used to think of it as a prolific purple or red flower. What I haven't noticed before is that, what appear to be its butterfly-like flowers are reallybracts. There are in fact three small white flowers, the true flowers, to each group of bracts. I learn that the plant is named after Louis Antoine de Bougaineville, who sailed round the world between 1766 -69.
D H Lawrence wrote a poem called Bat, set in Florence in which he describes "swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together" as the evening draws in. And suddenly as darkness falls:
The swallows are gone".
I am reminded of this poem as the swifts, shrilling above us in front of the sea , vanish with darkness and are replaced by, as far as I can see, just one bat. Its wings are, as Lawrence declares "... like bits of umbrellas."
Walking in front of us up a narrow pedestrian street, is an elderly man, dressed in black, with straggling long hair. With the ferule of his umbrella, he obsessively pushes dog ends into the narrow gutter that runs down the centre of the paving. Sometimes he stops when the rain has made a dogend heavy and unmanoeuvrable, and putts it like a cautious golfer eager not to miss his target.