Of Moby Dick & Wildflowers

It's a cold, gray, blustery day...

...in late October. A cold front is moving in, and it looks like it could rain any minute. Pepe, Marcela, and Aracely are upstairs watching "Dumbo". Dani has taken the two boys to soccer practice. My head is pounding.

I am sitting here in my makeshift basement studio trying to think of a good way to get this started. 'Call me Ishmael' is all I can come up with so far. It's a great beginning, at least it worked pretty well once before... well, no, maybe not. I mean, who has actually read "Moby Dick"?

I saw the movie once, one late night on TV when I was a kid, (I can still see our old GE black and white TV, and Gregory Peck lashed to the side of the Great White Whale). And I did buy a copy of the book at a used book sale for a quarter. It is in our library now, sitting there, unread, with all the other books I have bought at used book sales and haven't read.

Anyway, to get on with things...

For most of my adult life I have claimed to be an artist. Dani, my long suffering wife, has pointed out that I might just as well claim to be a brain surgeon, for all the evidence I have demonstrated for either occupation.

Though in my mind I have always been a fabulously successful artist, reality, as always, tends to be a different matter.

Oh well.

But the irony is, for one who has claimed all his life to be an artist, I am terribly unobservant. I mean ridiculously so.

For example, I never really noticed the days got shorter in the winter. I am surprised I noticed that it actually got colder.

I never knew there was such a thing as wildflowers.

Back when I was growing up in Minnesota the snow would disappear - usually too soon for my brothers and I, melting the backyard hockey rink we had worked so hard to make. And then stuff would start to grow. I figured that pretty much covered it. I never noticed blood roots and May apples and Dutchmen's britches until Dani started dragging me along on her spring expeditions through Lowell Park.


Off we would go down a path through the woods, my agenda being simply to get to the end of it - so we could find a new path to get to the end of. But, no. Dani would spot some tiny little flower and we'd have to stop while she stooped down next to it and paged through her field guide, until she knew exactly what variety it was. It drove me crazy! I just wanted to keep moving.

Then she got a field guide for me. Oh boy.

Next thing I know I am debating with her whether that little white flower is a wood anemone or a false rue anemone. And you know what? When you really stop to look at those tiny, unassuming little flowers, they are amazingly beautiful. Their colors are so pure and pristine, their petals and leaves are so delicate and perfectly formed. They are truly wonderful.

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But that's how it is. The world is full of wonderful things - and every once in a while I crack my head against one of them (though usually it is against the cabinet door over the kitchen sink...).

Take yesterday, for example...

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Wonderful Things


Paul Dallgas-Frey

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