Saturday, April 18, 2009

Maurice and Fifi

My father is a champion keeper of houseplants; he still has a Boston fern he gave my mother on the occasion of my birth 38 years ago. When we were kids he came home one day with two tall potted plants; a potted palm of the areca type and a different plant with whorls of dark, glossy, rubbery leaves. They were exotics, not like anything that grew locally (like many houseplants, native to the tropics or subtropics). He named them Maurice (the rubbery-leaved plant) and Fifi (the palm), and as kids we imagined them as slightly outre visitors from a faraway place. Dad nursed them through eight or nine Maine winters at least, if memory serves, though I don't think they're around any more.

Now, of course, I live in the tropics, and the effect of taking a Saturday hike around the neighborhood is that I am reminded that we've ended up in just that faraway place. Maurice's cousins grow in huge numbers in the forests where we walk:


while Fifi and her sisters are still a bit too sophisticated to grow just anywhere: they're usually found in people's yards.


Hardly outre at all, really; around here they fit right in.

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