Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not-so-Steel Magnolias

I had a lover once who told me she didn’t think she could trust a man who didn’t have wrinkles around his eyes, preferably from smiling. Fortunately I had a few at the time (wrinkles, not lovers), even though I was only about 32. Her point (I like to think) was that the wrinkles meant there was some content there; that experience leaves a visible mark. It has it’s own depth and beauty. The act of living transforms.

The magnolia is an ancient tree, evolving before bees, and is pollinated by beetles rather than flying insects.

In Greenville we have Magnolias, perhaps the singular, most recognized, symbol of the south. One grows* in my back yard and the street I live on is lined with them. Their blossoms are magnificent and huge. Their seed pods, formed after the flower has had its day, are also striking, with bright red seeds beloved by song birds. Lately I noticed under these trees, on my daily run, an odd object littering the street that I found especially visually interesting. I finally figured out what it is. It is the seed pod, transformed by traffic.  The magnolia, with wrinkles.

 The magnolia pod with a few red seeds remaining

 The wrinkled Magnolia

Ceramic Sculptor Ellen Ornitz, in speaking about her work, said it embraced the idea that “biography becomes biology.” What we experience is written on the body. Scars, changing hair color, and wrinkles around the eyes are evidence of a life lived. And like the magnolia seed pod, though we are changed by time and events, our form is no less beautiful.

*If you want to see a cool video of other flowers growing check it out here

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