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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Poppy At Esterháza

"My advisor  sent me to find you."

"Your advisor sent you to find the gardener?"

"Uh huh. You are the gardener, aren't you?

"Yes, er..."

"Poppy*. I'm Poppy. They said to give you this. I don't know why."

"Well Poppy, it's a hall pass with a question mark on the back. Don't worry, gardeners don't give tests. It means I should ask you some things. First, what am I doing?"

"Ha! don't you know?

"You first."

"You're trimming an Italian Cypress into a candlestick shape. I like the little topknot. It looks like flame.

"Thanks, that was the effect I was after. How did you identify the shrub?"

"I have a good memory for things grow...but, I'm..."

"Shy perhaps?" 

"Who told you that, Girls League Council? Did they tell you I'm shy, that I didn't make the cut on their Precision Giggling Team?"

"Their what?"

"Where they walk around in a group and look at someone and laugh all at once. It makes people feel awful. It's destructive! I thought I could join up and change it."

"You did."

"Huh? I...did what?"

"You made the cut, Poppy. They didn't. Here, take this rake, get the clippings into a little pile there."

"I'm confused. Is this like work-study? I help the gardener? What's going on?"

"Look, on the giggling team you learned how groups work in unison, achieve power, and you learned how to improve them, humanize them from within, person by person. You live in a world remote from privation, war, injustice and greed, where people may live their lives to full measure. How do you think that happened?"

"Government by discussion?"

"Very good! But the threats of the past did not disappear by themselves. Agents are dispatched into the past to join it, to persuade individuals to make adjustments, private adjustments toward tolerance, peace, generosity and kindness. Here, keep this."

"You just wrote 'Esterházy' on my hall pass."

"You know Haydn? The Farewell Symphony?"

"Yes, from orchestra class."

"What happens in the final movement?"

"It, um, goes about four minutes and then strange things happen."

"That's right, the group changes from within, stages a protest but never misses a note and it will be successful because you'll be there. That's your assignment. Check with me afterwards --I'll be in the garden at Esterháza. Look for candlestick Cypresses."

"This is crazy. That's over a thousand years ago!"

"Which is why I won't know you, Poppy. We will not have met yet. Just grab a rake and show me your hall pass. I'll sign it and all temporal variables will  reset so neither of us remembers the other."

"Ok, see ya!"

"See ya."

Poppy precedent


  1. I'm always reluctant to leave comments on your blog because your musings are always so clever and delightful that there's nothing for me to add (that's a compliment). Anyway, I'm smiling from ear to ear.

    I haven't heard the "Farewell" Symphony in a long time. It was fun watching the final movement dwindle right before my eyes.

    This is going to sound incredible, but it's true. I am distantly related to the Esterhazy family. They built a castle near the tiny Hungarian village of Borzavar. My maternal great-grandfather was born there and was of royal blood.

  2. Jon-- I thought of you while constructing this fantasy of the Fertőd region. Your musical prowess and sense of humor might easily come from there. I loved doing topiary at high schools in this city and often met promising young people who wanted a better world, a kinder world. Poppy is a composite of them. Perhaps we are descended from her too! Time travel is like that.

    Suze-- Thank YOU, kindred spirit.

  3. This is a truly wonderful piece. Thank you so much. I am now wandering off to think about it - and might be some time...

  4. E.C.-- Most kind! I am adding an asterisked footnote under the entry so we may reference a prior encounter with Poppy (from Oct. 15, 2012).

  5. A little bit of magic first thing in the morning.

  6. Delores-- Oh thank you! Good morning. It's 2:30 a.m. here and I'm turning in! Good night.

  7. You are so clever, Geo, and you started my day out perfectly.

    We can all contribute to a better world, one poppy, one piece of music at a time.

  8. Brilliant! The post and the symphony, I mean. If I were a funeral planner, I would definitely recommend that piece (the music) to my clients. I don't know if clapping is appropriate at funerals, but maybe it should be.

  9. I have a soft spot for Haydn - such an interesting story, his association with the Esterhazys. I love the subtle (and often not so subtle) humor in his work.

  10. Such a delightful post...thank you so much!

  11. Once again, mind blown. I sometimes feel like I'm back in those gentle hippie times when I read your blog. Like I'm in the kitchen at the Voorspuy house and Lathrope's dispensing wisdom while she cooks.

  12. Arleen-- Thanks, and yes...the Miss Rumphius effect --after a favorite Barbara Cooney character-- we mustn't forget to make the world a little more beautiful.

    Walk2Write-- I've always thought Pomp And Circumstance might also be appropriate, a commencement.

    Armchair Squid-- Indeed, Haydn's humor distinguished much of his work and gave it strength.

    Michelle-- Most kind. You are most welcome!

    Austan--A kitchen, yes, halfway between Heaven and Atlantis would be lovely.

  13. Brilliant, dude. Your mind is obviously still firing on all its cylinders.

  14. Susan-- Thanks, I'm still concerned with my valves and rings though.

  15. That was fabulous! I had my classically trained young nephew in mind as I read this! He's a humorous little thing, too!

  16. You have a clever mind with interesting tales


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