Below is a live-stream from the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, DC. The man-sized flower you see is known as the "corpse flower." Named for the putrefied stank it emits this carrion flower attracts pollinators by mimicking the smell of rotting flesh. The plant has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. Its Latin name is Amorphophallus titanum ~ "misshapen phallus." It is worth noting that this titan of the plant kingdom does not have a regular cycle to its bloom. Blooms may be separated by years or decades.
was born February 29th 1932 in Rochester, New York.This date tells us a lot about the person he
was.As a leap year baby his birth made
the local papers, a showman from the start! But being born in the middle of the
great depression would not be easy on him.His father “Ross” left Dad and his brother’s Bob and Jim and his mother
Agnes when Dad was very young.Dad spent
much of his youth in chaos. His mother Agnes struggled to hold down a job. He
spent time in foster homes and even ran away with his older brothers for an
entire summer when he was around eight years old.
proudly retold the story of living off the land that summer, camping on the
banks of the Genesee River, smoking cigarettes and foraging for food. The boys
would get so hungry that they resorted to stealing vegetables right out of the
back of farm trucks. They’d stand on a bridge near Avon, NY with a grappling
hook dangling on a rope and when the veggie truck drove under the bridge they’d
fish for sustenance.One time while
pulling up string beans Dad got the grappling hook caught on the back of the
truck and pulled the tailgate right off and all the sting beans came pouring
out.You could say he had an early start
spilling the beans.
tell you this story to give you an idea of where Dad came from. Ultimately he
found a home living with his grandmother – Lizzy Duffy and his grandfather
Frank Moran in Avon where he worked as an adolescent at the Avon Inn. He spoke
so fondly of his grandmother Lizzy attributing his love of home cooking and
fresh vegetables to her.
I think of the archetypical Dad I think of hunting, fishing, and power tools
you know, the macho stuff. But Dad did not enjoy any of these things. Dad valued
good conversation and learning new things. I spent many years of my life being
upset with him for not filling the traditional father roles I thought he should
have been playing with me. But now, when I think of Dad’s life, what he went
through to put himself through college and law school all without a father I
can’t help feel more and more proud of him.Despite all the obstacles he faced Dad was able to develop a unique
personality and sustain an unbridled optimism.
had such a passion for being alive. A child-like sense of curiosity and
positive attitude filled him with fervor for sharing new information. If Dad
read a stimulating article he would have copies made at his office here on
Cherry Street in Jamestown and pass them out to people. People he loved and
people he just randomly encountered. A Democrat to his core Dad believed
whole-heartedly in the earnestness of the common person. I always admired and
will for the rest of my life strive to accomplish his skill at communicating
with total strangers. He struck up conversations at bus stops in the airport or
at the bakery with anyone who would smile back at him. Though we have photos there is nothing that
will replace Dad’s smile.A genuine
smile with rosy cheeks you always knew he was about to say something clever.
was larger than life. He stirred the pot and rocked the boat all while making
you think.More than just a pun-master
he was a great weaver of stories.On Tuesday nights when I was a boy Dad would
come home from choir practice here at Saint Pete’s (as he so affectionately
called this place back then) and walk up the stairs to my room where I would pretend
to be asleep. He’d walk in and sit on my bed and begin to tell me about the
day’s excitement. Eventually I would beg him for a story. Maybe an old standard
like his rendition of Robin Hood or the
old Irish folk-tale - Billy Beg and the
Bull. But often I’d request a completely new story improvised on the spot.
I would even give him a breakdown of what I wanted “one part scary, two parts
science, one part camouflage and two parts adventure… please.” Dad would sway
for a few minutes sitting on the bed with his eyes closed; his bottom lip
pulled up high then he’d begin to unfold the most marvelous tales you could
imagine.There were kingly feasts served
on red silk table clothes pulled right out of a bull’s ear, a mad scientist who
saved the world with his magic camouflage camel, and a little boy who ran away
into the woods only to return home heroic but sleepy.I romanticized these stories the most; running
away into the wild, living on what nature supplied, making a bed out of heaps
of dry pine needles. It was not until much later that I realized the personal
origins of these stories for Dad.
I get older I become more and more grateful for the gifts he gave me while he
lived.First and foremost he gave me an
education. But more important than the
means to attain an education he also instilled in me a deep-seeded appreciation
for education in general and a drive to continue learning as long as I live.Many nights when I would visit home in my
twenties I would walk up those same stairs to his room sit down on his bed with
him. I’d scratch his back and we would start talking about politics, or world history,
or Cornplanter, Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull. If we got to a point in the conversation where
neither of us knew much about the topic at hand I’d go get the appropriate
Encyclopedia volume and we’d read together about the Etruscans or the Danube
River, or the Andromeda Galaxy.
was lucky to have thirty years with Dad and to have such a close relationship
with him. When I look at my voicemail history I see that the vast majority of
the messages were from Dad. He loved to chat and stay in touch. This will be the
biggest change for me, loosing not just a supportive and loving father but also
a great friend.