Thursday, 22 July 2010


Q. What is missing from this picture?

A. Poppy seed heads.

Each year flower arrangers grow a number of plants for harvest very late in the year where the main aim is to get dried stems which will stand in a vase and can be sprayed gold or dipped in glitter.

There is an element of luck involved; the fragile stems often break when handled or the quilted heads go the ugly shape of tumours instead of the magical little pumpkins with their mathematically perfect but whimsical shells.

Ceramic sculpture of poppy seed-head

What you don't expect is either some self-appointed DEA person who is supposed to harassing poppy farmers in Afghanistan, or some lazy-arse local who can't be bothered to grow their own poppies, to come and snip the heads off while one is out. The chilling thing is that somebody has been observing this patch of flowers carefully as they aren't easily visible. There are only a handful of people who know the plants are there, so this breeds distrust of neighbours. Unjust, but inevitable.

The thief has come in with a bag and pair of secateurs and systematically ruined the future display. The two pods in the picture are the only survivors. I doubt this will give enough seeds for a colony next year, and anyway, there is an argument for not growing them if it attracts undesirables.

The sooner we get this drug regulation sorted out and the Afghani farmers paid properly for their crop, the sooner the flower arrangers of the world can take down the barbed wire and machine-gun nest which I now feel obliged to install.

They aren't pinching my figs.


JuliaM said...

"The chilling thing is that somebody has been observing this patch of flowers carefully..."

Indeed. No doubt if they'd asked nicely, you'd have given them a few seeds. I expect there's always one or two that aren't right for drying.

That they didn't bother to ask, and put in some surveillance time as well, is pretty creepy.

Elby the Beserk said...

You can of course, boil the heads to make Opium tea.

We have a lovely crop in our front garden; seeds from Helmand, in fact, via an aid worker acquaintance. Hopefully they will be allowed to dry some we can Constance Spry them up...

Woman on a Raft said...

I'll have to catch them before I can boil their heads, Mr Elby.

Story. I was helping at a children's do (can't remember the event - there were lots of little ones running about) when tiny little blond girl dressed as a shield maiden rushed up to me.

"Do you know what the Vikings did?"
"No, tell me what they did"
"They used to fight and feast and then they would DRINK FROM THE SKULLS OF THEIR ENEMIES" she yelled, waving a fist the size of a snail shell.

I must have looked shocked, because the pools of her eyes suddenly became concerned as I searched for something to say.

"It's alright" she said "They washed them out first".

lilith said...

Belly laughs :-)

JuliaM said...

Heh! :)

Puts the worry of the Righteous about children coping with violence in fact and fiction into perspective...

Elby the Beserk said...

Splendid child. I read many of Grimm's Fairy Tales to the kids when they were young. Some of them are extraordinarily bloody, "Fitcher's Bird", springing immediately to mind. They all seem to have survived :-)

TheFatBigot said...

You can pinch my figs any time you want Mrs Raft, Phnaaaarrrrr.