Monday, September 7, 2015

Nothing laborious about these

I took the above photo of a plant I did not know while doing my morning errand of feeding my neighbor's cat while she is away.  For a couple of weeks, I've been watching this cluster of blossoms near her mailbox and wondering what sort of plant it is.  It reminded me of Crocuses, one of the lilies that is among the first flowers to bloom in spring, often before the snow melt is complete.  After taking a few photos and feeding the cat, I moved on to my daily stop at Midtown Coffee.  I was greatly appreciative of their being open, along the Quincy Natural Foods next door where I bought a morning newspaper.  Lots of people had to get up early on this Labor Day to provide services for us early risers who did not have to work - at least not on a schedule.  Truth be known, I have done and will do lots of work today; I just don't have to pay attention to a time clock, and I can do a little web surfing to read about how the Labor Movement brought about the concept of weekends and holidays off.  I greatly appreciate what Labor Movements have done over the years.  Although there has been much improvement in the conditions of labor, there is much left to be done.  One of my dreams is that more and more of the "work that must be done" could be reinvented so it seems like play, and our daily activities found less opposition between work and play.  On this note, I found out that these plants are Colchicum autumnale, known by various common names such as Autumn Crocus (although they are not a true Crocus), and Naked Ladies (although other species also go by that name).
I went back to feed the cat in the afternoon, and the flowers had opened, apparently without great effort.  They do this every day without regard to labor laws and human-like obligations.
They also happen to be toxic, containing significant amounts of colchicine, a drug with a very narrow range of medicinal usage and deadly beyond the appropriate dosage. 
The leaves of these lilies come up in the spring, then die back long before the flower-bearing stems poke up through the ground cover.  Their energy for blooming and producing pollen comes from what is made through photosynthesis in the springtime leaves and then stored in their bulbs.  It was fun to learn something new today.  I guess I should thank Google, as much as I hate their spying on me and always guessing what I am going to search for after I type only two or three letters. Where is Edward Snowden when I need him?   Happy Labor Day.

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