Monday, August 14, 2006

Brooklyn Trek

Lured by the exceptionally fine weekend weather and the prospect of witnessing botanical history (exclamation point!),Titan arum poster and Trekking 126 sock I trekked over to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see Baby in bloom. Baby is a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), an endangered rainforest species with one of the largest flowers on earth (technically an inflorescence), also one of the stinkiest. She's such a diva that she had the BBG Conservatory all to herself (the bonsai that usually live there had to clear out for her) and the line to see her extended all the way from the Conservatory to the lily ponds. That gave me the opportunity to cast on a sock in Trekking #126, the Brach's coconut candy colorway, and knit a bit. It's wonderful how starting a sock makes a line go faster.

It turned out Baby was in decline. She was stinky Thursday night and Friday morning – the security guard likened the stench to a garbage dumpster in summer – but not whiffy at all when I saw her on Saturday. Her tall spadix and frilly spathe were notable for their great size, striking color, and graceful shape (the calla lily is a relative), yet were showing subtle but unmistakeable signs of imminent collapse. And cut into her backside was a hatch, held in place with Scotch tape, which BBG staff used to gain access to her true flowers, to hand-pollinate them. (Click on photos to view larger or check out Baby cam for live images.)

Titan arum in bloom   Back of titan arum

Oh well. While waiting in line, I got a good look at the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) in the lily ponds. I'm a lotus-eater, and was interested to see the broad leaves and developing seed pods au naturel. Amazing to relate, the structure of the seed pods is very like that of the tasty tuber.

Lotus leaves and seed pod   Lotus seed pod emerging from spent flower

I had gone to see Baby on an empty stomach, an unnecessary precaution, so after some light refreshment at the cafe, I trekked over to the rose garden to do a bit of research for Rose of England. At the entrance was this pensive rose girl, with an armload of unfading bronze roses and a sundial. All the greenery in the photo is some kind of rose – it must be splendid beyond words at peak bloom.

Statue of pensive rose girl

The sock posed on her sundial, which bears the legend, Perennis Amor, love everlasting. The gnomen is a butterfly, symbol of the psyche and of eternal life. Poor rose girl, she must be in mourning for her soulmate (if there's a memorial plaque, I didn't see it).

Sock on sundial

(Even allowing for Daylight Savings Time, the sundial did not show the correct time.)

I also rambled around the neighborhood outside the garden; perforce, access to the parking lot was closed by the Panama parade, so I had to park some distance away. It's great there are so many signs of neighborhood vitality, including these unexpected angels (the brick wall must have been a challenge to paint).

Angels mural

Back roundabout Exit 151, the Brooklyn trek continued: my stuff from Brooklyn Handspun arrived. Some is a gift for a secret pal and won't be pictured for the moment; I got some Soft Spun fingering in colorway Seafoam (a "Subtle Solid") for myself. Doncha just love the logo?

Brooklyn Handspun Soft Spun in colorway Seafoam

It's lovely: beautifully ombré-d, as pet-able as Claudia Handpaint, and it comes in a generous 500+ yard (457+ m) skein. I do appreciate long yardage! It's so skin-friendly that I'm going to use it to make a thermal top ("long underwear" sounds a tad off-putting, no?) to wear under my cycling togs. Or to wear at home this winter – I'm planning on keeping the thermostat below 65° F (18° C).

I'm very pleased to have the yarn – Brooklyn Handspun always sells out quickly! And not only are the goods very, very good, but also Marie responded to all inquiries promptly. (Be sure to check out her exciting nascent plan for a knitters' retreat in the Catskills.)

And that was my weekend trek through a little corner of Brooklyn, U.S.A.



margene said...

I'm always curious about that stinky plant when they show it on TV. How fun to see it in person. Your sock is looking good and I love the colorway.

Missy said...

I learned so much from your post!!!
I also love Marie and her yarn!