Ages ago, I read that African Violets are actually from somewhere called Saintpaulia. Because they’re one of those plants that hardly ever blooms unless they’re forced to by a horrible dry spell, I doubt I’ll ever get to see them in the wild — I’m a desert person only insofar as there is a hotel with air conditioning, or a pool nearby.
I am inordinately proud of my Saintpaulia ionantha. My mother had these all the time I was growing up, and routinely overwatered them. I’m so much better at complete and thorough neglect, so my plant is thriving, blooming periodically, and doing just fine. I’m especially pleased because I started this plant from a slip of a parent plant that was given to me as a gift. All hail the feeling of delicious competence!
Like everything else beautiful, wild African violets are an indicator of species life; a botanical canary-in-a-coal mine. If things in East Africa are doing well, there are violets. If things are polluted… well, suffice it to say that the lands where these flowers grow are vigorously protected by any number of people.
African violets… glow. When seen in just the right light, they actually have some kind of a glitter on the leaves, which I couldn’t get to come through properly with the camera (unless I blew up the picture to a huge pixel-defying depth)… which of course was an epiphany that other violet-watchers have discovered. I find it makes them most horribly, violently, purple-prose spewingly philosophical, so I must share the wealth of pain:
“African violets are at their most beautiful during dry spells… when they have everything they need, they’re just lovely fuzzy green shrubbery. When they’re not watered, they send out blooms. Maybe they flower as cries for water. Maybe they flower to show us how to deal with adversity (oh, gag. I’m sure that’s not it.) graciously.”
And here’s another soppy florist motif: “The lovely African violet plant just needs a little light to keep it in bloom. This plant is symbolic of the human strength that fights back in the face of adversity with the aid of little hope for light at the end of the tunnel. This [plant] will help your loved ones to recuperate, to keep up their morale in the face of unpleasant situation and to fight back unpleasant thoughts and feelings. This plant is a great gift for your loved ones who may be depressed, sick or in a situation where they need the love and support of their family and friends.”
I’m sorry. I know I’m not meant to laugh at this… this gratuitious circuitousness, but for goodness sakes, if someone needs family and friends around, perhaps we should just take a chance and go sit with them… as lovely as my violet is while it’s blooming, it’s just not as good as listening effectively as I am. I do suppose it might help one fight back unpleasant thoughts and feelings, for about ten minutes (let’s revel in that feeling of competence again, shall we?), but after that…? Ooh, wait. That’s an unpleasant thought… Drat it, my usual psyche has come back again. Oh well. So much for my darling plant.
I suppose this is my nudge from the universe to go and listen to my sister complain from her hospital bed, but… nah. She has other people she’d be happier to see, so I’m taking a night off… to admire my violet.