Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sumac, Ev!

First Night Phone Call:
The other night when I was laying in bed in my hotel room in Nashville, my phone rang. It was late, but I had not fallen asleep yet. I bounded out of bed and flipped the top of the phone open.

It was Ev. He was at a friend's house and they had spilled a bottle of wine on the carpet. He was frantic. "What should we do? It was almost a full bottle!" "Gad, I cannot believe I knocked it over!"

Joking, I asked if he was more upset about the stain in the carpet, or the fact that they spilled their bottle of wine? He calmed down, laughed, and said, "OK, a lot of both." I could hear his panic subsiding.

I knew it was either tonic, seltzer, or soda water, so I suggested he 'google', then head out to the Kum and Go down the block. I also encouraged him to blot, not rub. I remembered that part for sure.

"Thanks, Mom. Good night. I love you."

Second Night Phone Call:

"Hey, Mom. How's Nashville? "
"Great! Having a pleasant time. What are you up to?"
"Just riding my bike and found a plant. Wonder what it is; it is so beautiful?"

He described a small tree along a hillside, facing into the sun.
"Mom, the leaves are incredible. Reddish-pink and the size of the most perfect lips."
He went on to describe the trunks as 1-2 inches thick; lots and lots of these young trees, maybe 5-6 feet tall.

I was stumped. "How are the leaves arranged on the stem?"
"Lots of them, each with their own stem." I could not picture what it would be.
My first thought was Euyonomous. Were they volunteer maples? A fruit tree? Perhaps a chokecherry clump.

He promised he would send along a foto from his cell phone.

Thanks, Mom. I love you. Bye.
"Hey, wait a minute. How did the wine stain turn out?"
"Right on, Mom. I ran to the corner, picked up some soda water, blotted, and it came right out. Thanks. See ya, bye!

I am home now. Yesterday, Dewey and I set out for a much needed walk. Never mind that it was misting/raining with a stiff northeast wind. I was pounding along, deep in thought, when I looked up and it hit me.

I said, outloud to no one in particular, "Sumac, Ev!"
There it was. Reddish-pink leaves, the size of most perfect lips. One-inch trunks. Growing along the hillside.

How could I have missed that? I guess his insistence that it was a tree with individual leaves threw me, but I am sure he caught sight of these most magnificent understory trees/shrubs.

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