June 4, 2011
September, 1994. Madison, Wisconsin. Franklin Avenue. In the backyard.
Time and place, when I first saw a peony.
It was unforgettable.
Not a rose, nor a camellia, yet familiar. Something like a dahlia, or ranunculus, suggestive of a tulip when closed, but abundant of petals, like a zinnia, when open. The petals, crinkled like crepe paper, yet so silky and supple... an oil painting in flesh. Inside, like a poppy, bold and complex.
I have never seen any in a garden here, though I am sure they are nurtured and coaxed somewhere in California. Mine came from Trader Joe's, and today I am bringing home a fresh bouquet.