Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Star of Panama
When I was six-years old and living in Laos, I took a walk one evening with my father. The sun hadn't set fully yet; it was that soft, blue-gray indirect light of evening. We were walking down the dirt road past our neighbor's yard. They had a lovely tall red and green hedge of star-of-Panama plants. Here in America, in a short (and usually short-lived) incarnation, we know them as poinsettias. That spikey, hard-to-say-or-spell name seems fine for the squat shrub that we give people we don't know very well. But the plants we walked past that day -- rangey, billowing out over the road, with fewer and more meaningful red stars floating above the green leaves -- those were Star of Panama, or even more lovely, estrella de Panama. I looked up at the lovely hedge and saw, floating above it, pistachio green and big as a man's hand, a luna moth. The yellow dirt road, the warm evening air, my over-worked and usually at work father walking with me, the dark green and crimson of the hedge, the luminescent pale green moth floating like a star above it and us; it was one of those shining, perfect moments you cherish forever.
So when a friend of mine recently commissioned me to do a window for her mother, of the view from their old home in Ecuador, I was overjoyed to hear that a Star of Panama tree was the most important part of that view. The Estrella de Panama tree was the heart and reference point of their garden. Beyond it they could see Mt. Chimborazo in all its moods. My friend played under the tree. When her aunt was angry everyone knew because she would go out into the yard and pull all the red leaves of the stars off the tree.
My friend and I agreed that I would do a Hiroshige-(views of Mt. Fuji)-in-stained-glass version of the scene: Mt. Chimborazo in the background, the star of Panama in the foreground. I'm excited. The drawing above is one of my prelimnary sketches for the window. As I progress, I'll add updates here.
As ever, E