Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Balsam & The Grassy Knoll

Day 156 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and I am reading Mid-American Review, the fat giant 30th Anniversary Issue, because it came in the mail today, and, specifically, the Tony Trigilio poetry feature, "I'm Going to Bust This Case Wide Open," because it is a set of poems about the grassy knoll and I have just come to The Grassy Knoll section of The Wishbones, by Tom Perrotta.

Actually, I have gone past The Grassy Knoll section, because I am loving the book--so funny, so tenderly human, all at the same time. A very fine, spare prose style here--people and their behaviors acutely rendered. People and their vulnerabilities gently exposed. And there's a poetry reading in it.

I don't think it is a spoiler to tell you 1) that The Grassy Knoll is a musical or 2) that the Trigilio feature looks at people who died (suspiciously, even if it looked like natural causes) during the conspiracy investigations into the JFK assassination.

As a lover of coincidii, I just looked in the New York Times for a grassy knoll musical, which I vaguely remembered, but I was probably vaguely remembering a play by Tennessee Williams, recently mounted on Broadway with Elizabeth Ashley in it, not a musical. Has there been a grassy knoll musical? Someone let me know!

This is yesterday's balsam, from the My Girls entry on Austen and Alcott, the A-list girls. Remember Wella Balsam? Shampoo that smelled pretty good, like a forest, so I always got it confused with balsa wood, and model airplanes. Farah Fawcett sold it with her popular hair.

Anyway, balsam is that flower I told you about yesterday, and pictured above, also known as Touch-Me-Not, as I learned from my favorite wildflower book, Wild Flowers of North America, by Pamela Forey, which pretty much has everything in it, meticulously drawn in color by Norman Barber, Angela Beard, Susanna Stuart-Smith, and David Thelwell, all of Bernard Thornton Artists, London.

"Touch-Me-Not" is perhaps the opposite message if you want to sell a nice shampoo, but it's possible Farah's hair had a lot of hairspray on it. Anyhoo!

Anyhoo, nothing.


Kim said...

I mentioned Balsam-Sniffing to you this weekend, which you wisely left out of your blog today.

I once walked in the woods with Joe Grabill (with permission of his wife) in Springfield to look at trees. While there, I saw a beautiful orange spotted flower and, well, I fondled it. Then I went back to my room at the retreat and looked up the flower in my copy of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflower, Eastern Region.

The flower was the "spotted touch-me-not"...I panicked a bit, imagining the bubonic plague or some other such result of touching the aforenamed flower.

Fortunately, before calling 911, I read on and found the reason for the not-touching name..."exploding, expelling seeds" but the sap from the stem and leaves can relieve itching from poison ivy and stinging nettles, and also cure Athlete's Foot!

So feel free to play footsies with the touch-me-not Balsaminacae!

Kathleen said...

I'm glad there was no conspiracy to assassinate the character of balsam in my blog.

Footsie and fondling are [almost always] fine by me!

JulieK said...

I wrote a book called "Touch Me Not" once. It was about a sort of superhero (wheee fun to come up with an origin story -- this one involved the Minotaur and suchlike) whose powers involved supersenses (all five of them), but that supersensitivity made it very hard for him to be touched, among other things. Excellent fodder for a romance novel. Denial and romantic tension and would his circuits overload kind of stuff.

Which is not at all the same as your blog post, but I am being tangential.