Thursday, 25 July 2013

Raiders of the lost Poppies - Notes from a nature walk

Mariangela lives in Rimini. A couple of weeks ago she was travelling to Asti and passed thorugh Bologna. "There are poppies in Bologna", she sent me an email. I was in a conference in Genova. Shit, this year I had forgotten all about poppies! There used to be this old field near our house that would get full of red poppy flowers in April-May. I had been there with Mariangela. They mowed that field down two years ago and since then I hadn't ever seen large expanses of poppy flowers.

Poppy or the Pappaverum Somniferum is supposed to be that plant that can be used to make opium. For getting opium you you need the milk of the ripe dry fruit. That is the reason, why you need a special permission to grow poppy plants in Italy. Some people say that to get opium you need another variety of poppy and perhaps you also need the hotter sun of equator. I am not sure about that but you can usually see the bright red poppy flowers along railway tracks and highways, where it grows as a weed.

The black poppy seeds are used commonly as decoration on bread and give off a lovely aroma. I am going to look for poppy flowers one of these days, I had told myself. Today was the the day of operation poppy.

I decided to go out towards the countryside for the morning walk of our dog, Brando. He is getting old, our Brando, and likes to go over his usual walking routes and usually if I try to pull him in some new directions, he usually does his Angad ji show, pointing his feet and refusing to move. However, today I was in no mood to give him and kept on pulling him till he gave in.

And no Ipod, no music to distract today, I decided. Nature demands proper attention or so, I thought. And so off we were.

The world of seeds

Just out of the house, and I got distracted by the maple seeds. There were so many of them hanging from the tree like plastic butterflies. So I started looking around clicked the pictures of different looking seeds. Here are some examples.

The maple seeds had wings like butterflies flying with acute angles.

Later I saw another variety of Maple, where the seed wings were in straight lines, at 180° angles.

In the next picture is what they call "albero falso di Giuda" or the false Jude's tree, with dried beans like seeds. In autumn, these trees without any green leaves and only these dark brown seeds look slightly sinister, and make me think of Dracula myths. I also don't know why they call them false Jude and if there is a real Jude's tree as well?

I like the seeds of Lime trees with the strange wing that is pierced by the flowers. I have read of the subtle perfume of Lime but to me the flowers seem scentless.

Then I saw the Elm tree with round penny like wings holding a small seed in the middle, in the next picture. Though on the tree the seeds are bunched together like piles of pennies and it is not easy to make out the form of individual seed.

And Finally these rounded beans like seeds that look like jhumkas, women's ear-rings. I don't know the name of this tree.

The world of roses

Then it was the turn of the roses. There were so many of them in the garden that we passed. Some of the housewives, going about their daily business of dusting and beating the carpets with sticks, looked at me with a suspicion as I tried to get a good angle to click their roses, but they were quickly mollified by the sight of Brando, who can look nice, cuddly and angelic when he is not busy barking at any rival dogs. So here are some of the roses I saw this morning.

Other flowers

However there were some other flowers as well that asked to be clicked, even if I didn't know their names, except for the tulips.

Tulip flowers have such zig-zaggy edges? To me they had always seemed smooth so I am not sure if this tulip is some special variety or do all tulips have these kind of edges?

Finally the poppy flowers

I did find the poppy flowers finally just a little outside, on the road that goes along the wheat fields. There were not too many of them but enough for taking some pictures.

A disgusted dog

It was a lovely morning and our morning walk lasted almost one and half an hour. Unfortunately Brando didn't appreciate it and seemed a bit annoyed at loosing his rhythm as I forced him to hold still while I clicked pictures of plants and flowers from different angles.

In this picture Brando is with Marco during holidays at the seaside some years ago

The return back to home after the poppy flowers was quick as Brando almost ran, understanding that I had completed my mission, pulling me along! If you think that he is too sweet or cute or small to pull people, you don't know him yet!

Note: This post was originally written in 2008

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