Thursday, July 06, 2006

Typha latifolia, Te Amo

When I was a kid, I had a serious thing for cattails. Every day after school I went over to this marshy field (which is now a soul-sucking McNeighborhood with a wicked bad mosquito problem) to pick cattails and bring them home to my treehouse. I recognize now that this was ecologically irresponsible ("take only memories, leave only footprints," etc.), but at the time I found it pretty enjoyable. Enjoyable enough that I kept doing it even though it constantly got me in trouble. Because, as I recall, I had some sort of elaborate cattail project in the works that involved shredding the cattails and hoarding the resulting cattail-down in my treehouse.

I think I was probably planning to make pillows. As a kid, I was all about making pillows out of shit you shouldn't make pillows out of. My mom once caught me stashing a shopping bag full of dog hair under the grill after I'd brushed the dog. "What the hell are you doing?," she asked. "I'm saving this dog hair until I have enough to make a pillow," I responded, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. "No. No, you are not. That's disgusting, and it will make you allergic to dogs," announced my mom, snatching my dog hair from me and throwing it in the trash. Her argument didn't make much sense to me: a pillow made of hair from the dog that slept on my bed every night was going to make me allergic to dogs? Really?

But I digress. Back to the cattail story.

When you shred cattails, they become downy, like very dense dandelion fluff. Perfect for pillow-making. But also perfect for getting blown out of the treehouse around the yard and stuck to everything. "Goddamnit, Megan!," my Navy dad would yell, "no more cattails!," as he climbed clumsily (sometimes in uniform) up into the treehouse he'd built to confiscate my cattails while I looked on sadly.

Poor cattails.

And poor Dad. "It's just nature, Dad," I'd admonish while he'd secretly wonder how this little nature girl, who'd begged him to build her a house in a tree so she could get away from it all, came to be his daughter.

Crap! I digressed again!

Okay, so, cattails. . .cattail down. . .messy yard. . .yelling.

Despite the yelling, I loved my cattails. I kept bringing them home and I kept getting in trouble. Eventually I stoppped with the cattails, either because I had moved on to dog hair or because my marsh was getting plowed over for a new development.

I haven't really thought about cattails in a long time. Until today, when I was out and about with my mom and we stopped at a place that had cattails growing along the side of the road. "Ooooh, cattails!," I exclaimed. "Mmmhmmm," my mom replied skeptically. I think she was hoping I wouldn't take them home to make a pillow. "I'm gonna take a picture," I added excitedly. "Jesus Christ," she said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes and no doubt recalling my former affinity for cattails.

Oh, and I tried to take a picture of a nearby chicken too, but it ran away from me like, well, like a chicken.


Brian said...

Was that the swamp at the end of Hargrove? 'Cause the park down there totally kicked ass. Even though you had to pass that evil Billy's house on the way there. And that Brandon kid got a rock dropped on his head there that split said head open. I think Billy did that. They built over that park?

Megan said...

No, this was WAY before the park. It was over on Whitehurst by the crazy Bible-beater church. Hopefully they built over that too.

Brian said...

Whitehurst? Oh...was that behind, um, what's-her-face's house? Rebecca something-or-other? Her brother fished in that creek with caterpillars, you know.

Not sure what that has to do with anything.