Grasshopper Soup: Planting poppies in the snow
May 11, 2010
Buried under a heavy layer of snow and a thin layer of soil, 30 golden poppy seeds prepare for an unknown fate. Poppy seeds are some of the tiniest things in the universe that can still be seen by the human eye, yet each one holds within it all that is required to grow into the strong and beautiful California state flower. Some of them may even grow as tall as two feet.
The instructions said to plant them before the last frost. In other words, guess. Mondayand#8217;s snowfall certainly qualified as a frost, but who knows if it was the last. As I write, it looks like the dead of winter out there, a full-blown blizzard.
Just in case my poppy seeds are suffocating like the Gulf of Mexico, and like we are with national debt, Iand#8217;m going to plant some more after the snow melts, and after the next snow melts after that, kind of like printing more money, and throwing money away at the same time. Something is bound to grow eventually, even though Mother Nature is just as good at extinctions as she is with bail outs.
Although more common at lower elevations, there are some golden poppies growing wild in Tahoe City and Truckee, but they have yet to come up. Golden poppies are already blooming abundantly this year in the western foothills because of the wet spring weand#8217;ve had. Their fertility fluctuates year to year like the stock market sometimes does day to day. Plant life and Wall Street are subject to very much the same ebb and flow of chaos and order, drought and rain, good soil and bad soil, chance and crooked ponzi schemes.
Since golden poppies are the state flower I am pretty sure the law requires you to like them. They are not hard to like because they are so beautiful, but people are funny. Not everyone likes beautiful things. It is definitely illegal to pick a golden poppy, so you might as well like them just the way they are. You canand#8217;t go around getting rid of them like you can with weeds, unless you are some kind of a crazed criminal.
Poppies are so well protected you canand#8217;t even buy or sell them in a planter fully grown.
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You can only buy the seeds. If you plan to eat or smoke the seeds, or the plant, you might be able to say you are doing it for medicinal purposes only. After all, this is California, and poppies are the state flower. Maybe we should declare junk food medicinal.
It might even be illegal to criticize poppies. If not, it should be. But who would criticize a golden poppy? In America, thereand#8217;s bound to be somebody, and they would probably go out of their way to do it, maybe even spend their life savings or risk not being re-elected. Being against something is often the trendy thing to do. Iand#8217;m against that.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai will be hanging out with President Barack Obama sometime this week, but they will be discussing an entirely different kind of poppy. I wouldnand#8217;t be surprised if they also had a few good laughs about world instability and the inevitability of global chaos, in secret behind closed doors of course. They wouldnand#8217;t want the press to get hold of a fun, mature conversation between two experienced adults, because they know the press, and possibly the masses, would have a problem with it.
God forbid word ever got out that two world leaders were actually getting down to the nitty gritty, hitting the nail on the head and telling it like it is.
It must be fun to be a world leader. They get to travel the world and yuk it up with each other. But their lives are dangerous too, which may even add to their sense of humor. They know they are nothing more than little tiny seeds buried in the ground, waiting to see if conditions will ever be ripe for all the poppies of the world to bloom together in beauty, peace and harmony.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. Heand#8217;s lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years.