A flash of purple in the mottled green morning light. The sun filtering through the freshly clothed trees, warming earth and sea ready to greet the future hordes. But for the moment, quiet. The only sounds the rustle of those new leaves, the gentle tinkle of the bells around the necks of the sheep/goats slowly munching the herbage along the roadside the wizened yet brightly smiling old resident of Çokertme patiently waiting before whisking them off for milk then cheese then breakfast.
The shock of the purple is extreme – its’ velvety texture, the strong leathery spike emerging from the centre; an Anglican Bishop amongst the Orthodoxy of the islands. More exotic than anything in my garden, more mysterious than the local language, this beautiful flower is known as a Death or Voodoo Lily. How strange for something so beautiful to be associated with death, or perhaps that is just my Western, atheistic, sensibilities linking a finality when others see death as a glorious release or path to heaven and life everafter. In a way this wonderful plant has that life everafter – the seeds that will follow the glory of the bloom ensure the survival of the gene line.
I am reminded of that wonderful piece by Jenny Joseph “When I am an old woman, I will wear purple”
WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Well done that plant!