This gave us the Ministry of Funny Walks, the naughty bits of a Larch, and the skit involving that poor little budgie pining for the fjords...and it's why whenever talking about lupins (the lovely flowering plants), my family refers to them -- always -- as "Bloody Lupins."
I returned to the North Country after a long break away when my sister invited me along to help with a fixer-upper cottage on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. I was glad to go. Not only are my sister and I funny together (raised on a steady diet of Monty Python and isolation, I should hope so anyhow), my sister is a clever carpenter and I was happy to trade some muscle for the chance to watch her do her craftsman-skills thing.
One morning I offered to make the supply run and said, "Hey, sis, do you want to put in some flowers?" Her answer -- a distracted "Um, yeah. I was going to get to that," -- seemed like permission. I'd been itching to put some flower-seeds into all that dirt.
Standing in front of the seed-carousel for a few moments, entranced by the pretty pretty pictures on the rattling little packets, I picked out Bachelor Buttons (because it was Daddo's favorite), the classic red poppies (which I love, and which I thought my sister loved too, for the WWI poem that starts, "In Flanders Fields the poppies blow..."), and -- "Oooh," I said it aloud, "Lupins! Bloody lupins!"
My sister suffers from migraines, and by the time I got back to the cottage, she was bee-lining it for a dark room. "Shall I make a little bed for these seeds?" I asked. Her answer was something along the lines of, "Whatever."
So I took my little packets and used my best judgement. I mixed the seeds with bone-meal so they'd be more obvious for watering or -- if she didn't like my judgement -- for plucking out. I planted them in swooping lines through the shrubs and trees. I flew home a day or so later, leaving my sister to keep chugging away at the cottage.
"Did the plants come up?" I asked her in a few weeks.
My apology didn't impress her. "I've been putting them into this bucket so when they go to seed they don't do it here. If you want to help, you can go around and dead-head for me."
A few days later, I offered to run the garbage to the dump. It's a pleasant drive to the other side of the village and the town dump is kind of interesting -- neatly organized and not-stinky interesting, rather than squalid or rat-infested interesting.
I set the bucket of deadheads next to me on the front car seat. Once I got into the village, I opened both front windows and then, as I turned onto the country road to the dump, I started flinging seedpods and dry flower-heads out the window. I was like a modern-day motorized Johnny Appleseed. I was Amy Poppyseed. Amy Bloody Lupin-seed!
A few years later, my sister sold that first cottage and got another. I heroically resisted the impulse to seed the new place with lupins. Or poppies.
Eventually, she decided to move back North full time. She found herself a new fixer-upper and I offered to help. We joked about the bloody lupins.
"Where's the new place?" I asked.
She explained that it was on the road that goes out past the dump.
"I dropped lupin-seeds and poppies all along that road!" I said.
"Yeah," she said, her voice weary. "I know."
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