Bird of Paradise

bird of paradise The house I grew up in had a beautiful bird of paradise in the front yard. I took it, like much that surrounds us as children, for granted (water to the fish), but in retrospect I recognize it as the most beautiful plant I’ve known.

Last Monday, at Albuquerque High School’s graduation, each student was handed a bird of paradise, the class flower of the graduates of 2006. The flowers seemed somehow unwieldy piled up in on a table to the left of the stage, neat and orderly but not quite matched, very much like the rows of students in their green caps and green gowns – neat and orderly, but not at all matched.

I did not expect the emotions I felt as I watched Nora pick up her flower, and the bird of paradise is the least of the thing. But I will let it stand in for something richer and more complex and difficult to articulate, and say simply that it adds a fond touch.


  1. Good ‘un John.

    My sister’s oldest, SK, just finished her sophmore year and is traveling in Europe right now as part of a class.

    As she becomes her own person, you can see the traces of her parents in the way she goes about things, despite her best efforts. And you can see the emotions you wrote about in my sister’s e-mails to us about the tiniest details of my niece’s trip.

    Anyway, when I had the landscaping business I used to ask my clients what flowers they remembered from their childhood and I would incorporate them into the design, and usually these remembered plants would make my design a hit. My sister called me yesterday about pruning their lilac. They didn’t want to screw it up, see. SK loves lilacs…




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