11 July 2007
Author: John Light
Illustrator: Lisa Evans
If Aldous Huxley and Edgar Allen Poe teamed up to create a children's book, this would be it. The world of The Flower is a hauntingly dismal place where the city is all shades of grey and people live in tiny boxes. A world where the great vastness of human potential is confined by the cruel limitations of their post-industrial nightmare.
The human spirit was not meant to live in a colorless world, wading through smog, scurrying across concrete, afraid to make eye contact on the subway. In this book, city living is cold and soulless... like a cadaver--still vaguely human, but for the distinct smell of fromaldyhyde.
Not to be melodramatic or anything.
Anyways, the hero in the book works in a library (obviously, since the library is a breeding ground for heroism), and one day discovers a book with a beautiful picture of something he had never seen or heard of before... a flower. The color from the picture is mesmerizing and soon our hero finds himself following a trail that leads him towards a reconnection with nature and a rediscovery of the beauty within.
The book reminds us of the importance of retaining some connection with the natural world, even when confined to the concrete jungles of urban living. I never quite understood this, probably because I've managed to kill every plant I'd owned. (A cactus even died under my care and those are supposed to be indestructible!)
But my girlfriend agrees with Light and Evans, and always insisted that having plants around the apartment was key to maintaining our sanity. And right now, as I look around the room, and see the few small potted plants bravely adding life our box of an apartment, I have to admit they've got a point. (Obviously, I'm not the one responsible for watering them or they would be dried-out husks by now.)
Which is why it's a good thing IKEA sells cheap plants. Truly, all your home furnishing needs in one conveniently surreal place! Who needs Mother Nature when you have the welcoming bosom of Swedish mass-production to make you feel at home?
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i have recently come to nearly the same conclusion as The Flower, all on my own. here's how it happened...
coming back to san francisco after a weekend at home in southern california--running at the beach, swimming outdoors--made me really disgruntled about coming back to city life. not that so cal life is rural or tropical by any means, but there was some element of a slower pace, the time and opportunity to appreciate the water and sky, and spacious parking lots that made me really long for something different than my alleyway that is a frequent stomping ground for the rattle and ruckus of shopping carts pushed by homeless people who are rummaging through our recycle bins, domestic fights involving shouting and throwing glass bottles from the aforementioned recycle bins, drunk folks vomiting while they keep walking, human poop with comb inserted into it, and the rudely awakening oom-pa-pa of tuba-filled mexican music and spanish chatter taking place literally on our doorstep. i did not even realize how much stress i'd been feeling about it until i left, and i guess it was so bad that it made even l.a. seem like a happier-go-luckier land.
realizing that it was not actually the end of an era for me here in sf, but rather just my body's longing for some peace, i made some resolutions:
1) spend time outside
2) not just outside, but outdoors and out of sf and in nature
3) outdoors in nature, go on hikes
4) to facilitate hikes, buy a bay area trail guide
5) grow things
6) tap into my long lost gardening fervor
7) nurture the basil plant i bought from trader joes
8) plant a Herb garden
9) buy pots, soil, and a watering can when i have money
10) buy Golden Gate Gardening, a book i once owned but lent away that has all you ever need to know about growing stuff in the bay area
here's what i've accomplished since then:
a) went on hike in berkeley hills
b) bought bay area trail guide AND golden gate gardening in the same bookstore trip (USED! yeah, green apple!)
c) have been nurturing basil plant as well as my roommates flower pot, and have been eating basil in many delicious dishes, while continuing to nurture my 2 living room plants--Big Mama and Hearty
d) found herb seed packets one of my roommates gave me for my birthday in december. put them prominently on my desk to remind me that they desire to be planted
e) planning hike in marin for this weekend
f) searched the 99 cent stores near green apple for a watering can but did not find one i liked
not bad for a week and a half, i figure. and i do feel a lot better, and i think i've snapped out of my moving-back-to-l.a.-stupor...for now at least.
did not know ikea has plants for cheap. will add to list!
i think that's it for my lengthy comment. i hope that makes up for whoever deleted theirs earlier. thanks for featuring this book and helping to unearth my flower!
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