You come to this blog for up-to-the-minute breaking news and incisive commentary, and by god, I’m going to give it to you. Dateline June 16, 2008: I have it on good authority that the peonies have made it to California.
Y’see, I noticed last year that our peonies weren’t blooming like they used to back in the salad days. I adore peonies like any red-blooded American, and I really wanted lots for my wife and daughter this year. But our farm is in upstate New York, and the crazy mood swings of spring weather can wreak havoc on many perennial flowers… well, hell, I don’t need to tell you that. Of course you know what I’m saying.
So, in April, I go to the usual spot for the peonies and notice the shrubberies have grown completely over them. I cut back a massive hole, and there they are, shriveled and cowering in the darkness:
I give them some food, let the sun bathe them in its glory, and hope they’ve got enough giddy-up to flower before Memorial Day. Indeed, they shoot skyward and bulbs pop out by the dozen, but no flowers blooming. I talk to them, trying to get them to come out before Tessa and Lucy have to leave on June 8, but no dice. I drive my girls to the train station peonyless.
And what happens when I get back from the train station? The near-100 degree heat has acted like Jiffy Pop, and the first flower has burst forth, mere minutes after the gals had left:
I decide this was not good enough by half, no sir. So I’m due to fly back to California three days later, and here’s what I did: clipped three flower stems, put them in a bottle of Poland Spring, and drove to Queens. From there, they went into the refrigerator until the next morning, when I brought them with me in the taxi to JFK.
At the airport security line, I hid them in the sleeves of my coat and ran them through the X-ray machine – peonies probably aren’t illegal to bring on the plane, but I didn’t want to take any chances. The minute I was free, I bought a bottle of wide-mouth Gatorade, chugged the Gatorade for the flight, then put in the flowers. Despite my skullduggery, they were beginning to bloom.
On the plane, the girl sitting next to me – a tall, tan, late-20s lass who had spent the night in the airport waiting for the plane – was so tired that she fell asleep against me. Her legs crept over to my spot until I bore almost the entire weight of her body. This was by no means intimate or sexual, mind you, as she was out cold, and I was on Xanax, but I HAD TO KEEP HER FROM SQUASHING MY PEONIES.
We landed at LAX, and I spirited my luggage and burgeoning flowers off to another taxi, arriving in Venice, CA at 11am. I plopped the peonies in a vase, and this was waiting for Tessa and Lucy when they got back in the afternoon:
I frickin’ adore peonies. They’re messy, careless, yet forever hardy. They grow so big and beautiful that they can’t even stand up by themselves. It’s the best smelling flower in the Western Hemisphere, and as god’s my witness, nothing’s better than the smell of a place you love when you’re so far away.