Marie Antoinette’ s puppy dog

Ariel the papillon

Some say the butterfly-dog breed originated in France, but I have my doubts. An arbiter of good taste and fashion, Marie Antoinette had, throughout her merry life, a bevy of Papillons, and I am not disputing this claim (except the part about her happy life). And, on a sun-clad afternoon, amid the singsong of peasants, she was paraded, merrily (see what I mean), on a squeaky-wheeled tumbril heading to the guillotine clutching a small dog, though this little nugget is only extant in the highly sanitized version of events: she cared not a whit about her own life, so it went, but made certain the boisterous little pooch wouldn’t lose his head over the pomp and circumstance of the festivities at Place de la Concorde, and so she had, clandestinely, lovingly, made meticulous arrangements for the cossetted canine to be housed indefinitely in palatial comfort, where he would forever convalesce after becoming aware of her bloody and untimely death. But historical accounts are unreliable, and facts are as malleable as clay in the hands of good writers–and but unruly gelatin in the hands of novices–yet unmistakably, history is written by the victors, leaving the vanquished in a bit of a spot, as usual.

But important evidence is being omitted. Marie Antoinette’s Papillon, as well as those depicted in paintings of the old masters, was an Epagneul Nain, a cute as a button, drop-eared progenitor of the butterfly-eared Papillon. But, in the good and revered name of science, try to offer a modern day Papillon the choice between Ratatouille, Quiche Lorraine, and Escargots–or Chop Suey, and you will learn something. The breed is most likely Chinese in origin. My experiments have consistently proven this point.



Murder in the field


And so the murder victim was dumped into the blue-eyed grass, which, quite naturally, witnessed the whole sordid thing. But how much weight does testimony from plant life carry? There was a case, in Lithuanian, where a dumb-cane ratted on a counterfeiter, but I don’t think the jury was impressed. But I could be misremembering, as often happens on those shoulder days between winter and spring, between madness and lucidity. You know the days. They are neither fish nor fowl. And, while we are on the subject, evidentiary testimony from fish (or fowl) is highly unreliable, though in a pinch you may be happy to call on a rainbow trout to deliver that knockout punch you so desperately need to advance your fledgling career as a prosecutor. Because without successes, there’s no fame or notoriety or cranberry-colored sports cars. And without winter, there’s no spring. Still, it’s pretty hard to get a cogent statement from sedges or from any type of grass. The best one could hope for is that some members of the jury are so buoyed at seeing a clump of sorghum being dragged into court, leaving a messy trail of mud and detritus, which a gawky paralegal must clean up, that they buy into the sweet sorghum story.

So you can see that there are difficulties in getting non-sentient life forms to clinch a case for you, not because they don’t have anything to say, but rather that we are unlikely to understand their subtle language, which leads us again to madness.

Pictured is Sisyrinchium bermudiana, our national flower. It’s some sort of Iris, which explains why it’s so good at seeing clandestine cum murderous activity or at spying on the sun, a sort of self-imposed chaperone. The sun, that giant cyclops, watches us mercilessly, so why shouldn’t slender and graceful Irises watch it? Naturally it’s a rhetorical question, but I won’t hold that against anyone who feels compelled to provide an answer.


hidden in the tropics


Melianthus major

Sceletium tortuosum update