An e-mail from my Dad, in response to the question I sent out to the Weedettes:
“Blue pinwheel thingies…does anyone know what these are?”
Ah, Master, at last you have come to the Grasshopper for assistance. My heart swells with pride and I am virtually overcome with emotion. In fact, I am so happy I could just—well, you know the rest.
The “blue pinwheel thingies,” as you so casually (and rather unflatteringly) refer to them, are “flores azules hay como las llantas.” Freely translated from the Spanish (and I do mean freely), the name means “tire-like blue flowers.” The word “tire” refers to the circular shape of the blossoms.
“Pin” refers to the stem, the part of the plant on which the blossom is “mounted.” Llantas (tires) are mounted on wheels which, in turn, are placed on the hubs of axles. Note the similarity of “pin” and “hub.” The terms are synonymous—that synonymicity, or synonymicitessness, should have been obvious to you because each word has exactly three letters and each is pronounced with just one syllable—the “b” in hub makes it sound like two syllables, but it only has one (you probably pronounce it “ub,” as in “erb” and “erbert oover,” etc.).
The “blue pinwheel thingies” were named by none other than Michelangelo (1475-1564), a man who was entranced (enthralled, even) by all things purple, even by anything even remotely tinged with the color purple, and one who is said to have thoroughly enjoyed “tip-toeing through the tulips,” if you get my drift.
In naming flowers, as in all his other endeavors, “Micky” (as he was called by his his students, most of whom are said to have been fellow tip-toers), was centuries ahead of his time, because although the wheel was in universal use, “llantas” (tires) had not yet been invented.
And finally, we come to the curiousist (as Alice in Wonderland might say) part in the saga of “flores azules como las llantas”—in this beautiful blossom we have a flower named by a fruit, and nothing could be any curiouser than that.
Actually there is something curiouser—in her e-mail (Friday, March 31, 2006, 8:11 a.m.) your friend Gina said she thought the plant might be a hyacinth. She was wrong, of course, but the curious part is that Michelangelo also named the hyacinth. The parents of his favorite student (said to have been a flagrant tip-toer) deliberately misnamed their son (they wanted a girl), and Michelangelo was wont to greet her— I mean him—as follows: “Hi ya, Cinth,” thus the name “hyacinth.” The name “hyacinth” therefore came from Michelangelo’s adaptation of his greeting to Cynthia.
Perhaps Gina knew the origin of the name but didn’t know that she knew it—it may have been submerged in her subconsious but was close enough to the surface to trigger an association with Michelangelo and his penchant for naming flowers.
Enough of my gloating over your inability to recognize that which should have been immediately recognizable. I’ll close by saying that the pics are gorgeous, whatever the flower’s name and however its origin.
Methinks I taught thee well (you’re welcome).
© 2006 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.