Sunday, February 21, 2016

Gerry McCullogh writes


The first sigh of spring:
Snowdrops bending over in the garden corner,
Sheltered by the rowan tree,
Sighing for sun and warmth.
They might have huddled down a little longer
In the shelter of earth’s heat, but, instead,
Brave warriors,
They fight temptation, and
Strike hard now against the cold of winter,
Thrusting up green and white against the dull brown soil
Lifting our hearts to see their courage.

 Image result for snowdrops


  1. Galanthus is the genus name for the snowdrop, though it comes from two Greek words, gála "milk", and ánthos "flower"); however, the most common, and most widespread, species, Galanthus nivalis, includes the epithet nivalis "of the snow." Although often thought of as a British native wild flower, as in Gerry's own County Down in Ireland, or to have been brought to the British Isles by the Romans, it was probably introduced around the early 16th century. Most varieties flower in winter, before the vernal equinox (20 or 21 March in the northern hemisphere). A small genus, it is native to Europe and the Middle East, from Spain, France, and Germany to Iran; a 20th species was identified in 2012, but it has been found in only five locations in a small area (some 20 km2) of northern Colchis (Georgia and Russia) -- and one of those five sites was destroyed during preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. Because the genus produces an active substance called galantamine, an Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor(AChEI) [symptoms of anticholinergic intoxication include amnesia, hallucinations, and delusions], Andreas Plaitakis and Roger Duvoisin suggested that the snowdrop was the mysterious magical herb moly, which had grown from the blood of the giant Picolous when he was killed by Helios, which Hermes gave to Odysseus to protect him against Circe's magic after she transformed his companions into pigs. In the Samuel Butler translation, Hómēros wrote, "The root was black, while the flower was as white as milk; the gods call it Moly, Dangerous for a mortal man to pluck from the soil, but not for the deathless gods. All lies within their power." During World War II The British people called the American military police stationed in their country "Snowdrops" because they wore white helmets, gloves, gaiters, and Sam Browne belts. In 1996 a gunman killed a teacher and 16 children at Dunblane Primary School near Stirling; because March is snowdrop season in Scotland), the "Snowdrop Petition" circulated in response led to two new firearms acts which effectively made private ownership of handguns illegal in the UK. In Australia, "To snowdrop" means to steal clothing (especially women's underwear) from a clothesline; perhaps the expression came from Cole Porter's musical, "Kiss Me, Kate" (an adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew") in which the heroine was reconciled to her former lover after receiving a bouquet of snowdrops -- which he had actually intended for a younger rival.

  2. Thanks, Duane! And thanks for all this info, especially about the women's underclothes!

  3. I hope we all have the opportunity to see more of your stuff. (In a poetry rather than an underwear sense....)


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