I suspect many readers today are more interested in the latter than the former, so I will begin by announcing the winner of a copy of Sharon Silverman‘s new book, Crochet Scarves. Congratulations to grannymax! I’ll shoot you an e-mail and we can sort out the details. I know Max will enjoy the book, as will everyone else who gets their hands on it. Thanks for playing along and best of luck when the next carrot is offered! Here are some of the coming contributors to the Crochet Scarves blog tour, with more TBA:
StyledbyKristin.com (Kristin Omdahl) on 7/24; Modeknit.com (Annie Modesitt) on 7/27; GoCrochet.com (Ellen Gormley) on 7/30; CrochetbyFaye.com (Robyn Chachula) on 8/3; Handsindelight.com on 8/10; Crochetville.org on 8/13; Crochetconcupiscence.com on 8/23
If that’s all you need to know, then you may be excused.
Now, about the orchids. Plants can’t be evil, can they? They aren’t sentient and don’t move, so if you leave them alone they leave you alone, know what I’m saying? Not that you can’t be injured or killed by plants. Heck, I’ve been stung by nettles, pricked by thorns, stickered by bushes and poisoned by ivy and oak (luckily never poisoned by mushrooms). My bad for not giving all of those plants a wide berth.
It’s also your bad if you go hacking through an impenetrable jungle or wander off the trail into the deep forest at night. We didn’t need The Blair Witch Project to show us that getting lost in the woods after dark is truly scary. And even though it’s not the plants in the woods that are evil, still it’s a good idea to heed the warning: Don’t go in the woods at night. Just don’t. What if there are R.O.U.S. lurking?
Pop culture, science fiction and fantasy are rife with examples of plants that are out to get you (which assure and reassure me that I am not the only one who has these thoughts), from the ridiculously silly Killer Tomatoes to the mildly disturbing Krynoid pods in Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom. Hey, the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz didn’t spook me as much as the abusive trees. As a kid I thought twice before picking apples, or any fruit for that matter.
In the first season Star Trek episode This Side of Paradise, normally logical, stoic Spock gets shot in the face by a cloud of spores from an alien flower and under the influence turns into a stoned idiot. Yikes, somehow a gang of these flowers gets transported to the Enterprise, everyone is infected, and the entire crew mutinies and abandons ship. Dammit, Jim, I’m a crocheter not a botanist, but those plants are from the dark side. You do realize there are plant spores in the air all around us, like from mold and fungi, inhaled in every breath, and we hardly give them a second thought, but spores should not be taken lightly.
There are real-world carnivorous plants that creep me out. It’s a short hop from an actual Venus Fly Trap to the ginormous, ravenous Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. And how about Pitcher plants? They are scary-sneaky, attracting insects with nectar bait, luring them to their drowning deaths in a pool of digestive enzymes. Sweet, huh?
I look at certain shoots and tendrils that seek anything that can help support the plant, how they seem to reach out, grab and wrap around whatever they touch. Even the fastest-growing of them only extend inches a day, so a person could easily get out of the way. But what if you’re incapacitated somehow, or asleep? How about the maze, the final challenge in the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire? Yes, admittedly that was an enchanted maze, but still it was majorly creepy and didn’t your heart skip a few beats when the shrubbery snaked out and attacked Cedric Digory?
Roots are the freakiest bits, sickly pale fibrous things that slowly, inexorably spread, invade, entangle, engulf and even penetrate anything in the way, even rock. Since most plants keep their roots hidden from sight, either under the soil or shielded by leaves, we are not constantly reminded of their grotesqueness. But last year I met a plant whose roots scared the crap out of me. I was visiting Vashti Braha in subtropical Florida, so I knew there’d be stuff not seen here in Pennsylvania. During a walk around her block she showed me my first strangler fig. Just the name makes me uneasy. I love trees; Ents are favorite characters of mine from Lord of the Rings. It made me cry to see what was happening to so many trees in Vashti’s neighborhood; slow, horrible, crushing death by strangler fig. I still have nightmares.
I got that uneasy feeling about a plant one other time. It was the day I was Sharon Silverman’s guest at Longwood Gardens early last spring. Although we are practically neighbors, Sharon and I had never met before that day and I was delighted to share an afternoon at one of her happy places. The day was blustery, and although we did a bit of walking around the grounds, we spent much of our visit in the conservatory viewing the Orchid Extravaganza. The exhibit was pretty amazing, breathtaking actually, and we had a wonderful time getting to know each other over lunch. I didn’t think to capture the moments in photos, but Sharon did take a few shots. Since she was wielding the camera there isn’t a picture of her or the both of us, but here’s me.
There was an orchid hanging from a tree in a dim corner and I swear I got shivers just looking at it. Unlike the delicate or gaily colored ones we had admired, this one was dangerous; lurid purple and blood, with vomit shaded accents. It was the tropical kind with aerial roots, a freaky wormy ball of roots that with very little imagination could turn into a wriggling, writhing mass that might slither over and hunt you for food if you got too close. Sharon had a good chuckle over my comments about the scary orchids. But notice she didn’t take any pictures of them. And I never turned my back on them, not once.