Opium Poppies and White-Spotted Agrias and Poetry and Cats

Daily Draw March 23rd, 2013

I went through my Botanical Postcard Oracle today which is essentially a collection of postcard books. Today’s card is from the Posta Medica postcard book by Helen Buttfield.

OPIUM POPPIES (Papaver somniferum)


These poppies have been used for medicinal purposes for over 3,000 years in China. they relieve pain but also cause great suffering, as some of their derivatives are misused and addictive. I was interested to learn that they have huge colour variations, from traditional white, to red or even purple. Both the poppy seeds that we eat and poppy oil come from this plant.

It looks similar to the Remembrance Day poppy, Papaver rhoeas, which to some is a weed and not a cash crop like the opium poppy. The poets Coleridge and Baudelaire wrote some of their hallucinatory poetry under the influence of opium.

The butterfly on the stamp is the Agrias amydon or White-Spotted Agrias. There are so many subspecies of this insect that it gets confusing, but their undersides have a dark blue and deep orange luminescence to them, completely different looking than the top side. It is found from Mexico, through Central America to South America.

To go with this I picked a few snippets from Braided Creek by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison, one of my favourite poetry books that I bought on the recommendation of a gentleman on my reading group.

Reading poetry late at night
to try to come back to life.
Almost but not quite.

This one reminds me that in three days is the anniversary of the death of my yellow Labrador Abby last year. We still miss her and speak of her often, our throats still catching with sadness, as we remember her and our younger lives.

To have reverence for life
you must have reverence for death.
The dogs we love are not taken from us
but leave when summoned by the gods.

I spoke to my sister today and she says Dad is going downhill quite a bit. This could mean something or it could not. He is sleeping a lot, and like the quietude amid a field of poppies, rustling occasionally.

We should
sit like a cat
and wait for the door
to open.





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