Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Thirty-Two




Moleskine accordion book.

The plumeria is a difficult blossom, thick, gooey in its drying, and difficult to fit into a book. Disappointing also, as its colour and caramel-sweet fragrance slip away. This particular bloom, whose creamy petals caught my eye, was picked off the ground in Hawaii. A christmas get away. A few thick pages later, there is bark from the eucalyptus forest and a tiny perfect silver leaf from the crater of Haleakal─ü. Some large tropical leaf, glossy and veined, found on a sand pathway, has been cut to fit in exactly.

What must it have been like to arrive at the Hawaiian archipelago as a naturalist? Surely you would have the desire to complete a herbarium - trying to catalogue or collect everything. Would you hope to be exhaustive, an exuberant ambition that you would abandon in the face of reality, at which point you would settle for cataloguing only the strange and unusual?

The desire to make a book of the plant world is not new. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew apparently have a manuscript page with dried plants (a herbarium sheet) made by Ptolomy that dates back to 305 BC.

Perhaps rather than photographs, we should document the passage of time with an index of plants.


Look inside.


Here is a list of books.

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