Saturday, January 31, 2009

The first riddle

Photo of the original Turandot poster
courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Calàf, the exiled prince of Tartary, risks all by taking his chance at answering Princess Turandot's three riddles. If he wins, he gains her; if he loses, he loses his head. The appeal of ice princesses (tù che di gel sei cinta) is lost on me, but my secret dreams did not include princesses, so I recuse myself on this issue. I do loves me some Liù, on the other hand.

When I first heard a recording of Turandot it was one of those "take it or leave it" experiences. Over time, however, I came to love it and would probably say it is my favorite opera. In the words of one of the Office Girls: "You can't argue with the butt-kicking excellence of the Pucc'-man [pronounced Pooch-man]!"

Here are Éva Marton and Plácido Domingo in the riddle scene (Straniero, ascolta) from a production at the Met in 1988.

The first riddle is: "What is born each night and dies each dawn?"

Turandot is thoroughly shaken when Calàf guesses it: la speranza ("hope").

"Where IS he going with this?" you may well ask.

My point - finally - is this: today, for me, Hope is not about President Obama, nor a thing with feathers, but the act of planting in the yard. I am re-enacting what I did two years ago in a plot that consisted of nothing but an admixture of sand and fine adobe clay bounded by cinder block walls (an efficient but aesthetically execrable material). My sandbox.

This morning my back yard looked like this.

I started soaking some bare root roses.

Then I looked back from the other end.

And at the end of the day we had these expressions of hope and commitment to a future. On the left is "Strike it Rich" and on the right "Piñata." I already have one Piñata rose bush that I planted from a taller potted version and it blooms endlessly and gloriously in manifold shades.

I plan to plant a clematis tomorrow. We had some back in El Cerrito, California, and I do enjoy them.

I planted two "Iceberg" tree roses back near the vines along the wall.

Here, closer to the door off the dining room and just to the left of the Red Haven peach tree, are a "Chicago Peace" rose on the left and "Miss All American Beauty" on the right.

There are still six roses to plant tomorrow.

I also planted some red tulips that should have been planted earlier. Ah well, with me things happen when I get around to them.

And that is my day (ignoring trips for more compost and root stimulant and plant food plus several breaks).

To further explain the issue of hope, perhaps I should let you all know that the first year I put in bare root roses I watered and waited and waited and waited and waited past all hope for some sign of life. Eventually all but one put forth shoots and blossomed and I had a wonderful summer enjoying them. This is why these critters are, for me, a sign of hope. And of faithful waiting.

My little Advent.

And now it's time to go soak in the tub. If roses get to soak, so does the gardener.
--the BB

1 comment:

Wormwood's Doxy said...

My dear, you must have lots of hope to grow roses... (Why is it that the quote "I have not found so great a faith in all of Israel!" comes to mind? ;-)

Dear Friend and I are going to see "Turandot" in April. I can hardly wait!