Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vines Gone Wild

In the middle of my block, there is a mini-forest of sorts, home to feral black cats and a stop-off point for migratory birds.
Each spring, this grove of trees takes on an exotic look as the wisteria entwined in its branches bursts into bloom.
Wisteria can be dangerous to a home when its massive weight burdens a roof, but in these trees it is just a striking sight. Later, the flower clusters turn into pods that release hundreds of seeds over the winter in explosive bursts that sound like pop-guns. The brown, coin-sized seeds spawn vines that can slither 10 feet or more along a garden wall and need harsh methods for removal.
Still, the sight of these vines unchecked in a tall tree in spring always reminds me of the power of nature. The host tree fades into mere background for these purple clusters in a transitory display that fools the eye while pleasing the viewer.
If you are on East Seventh Street between Park and Crescent, look down the driveway of the apartment buildings on the south side to get a glimpse of trees sporting the vine. Having once been married to a jazz musician, I know that "vine" was a slang term for clothes, and these flowers are very fine clothes indeed!
--Bernice Paglia


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