Wednesday, October 1, 2008


My love of beauty, which is relatively expansive, rarely ventures toward the “pretty”.
These craving for prettiness that I’m having seem odd this time of year when beauty tends towards boldness, the orange of pumpkins, the flames of turning trees. The sublime morning fog clothed the the valley with a gothic secrecy that is far from pretty, but is beautiful.
Maybe like the proverbial dirty old man I long for the sweet youthfulness of the year inherent in prettiness. In spring prettiness is everywhere in the young fresh growth and pastel flowers. In fall prettiness is melancholy, and momentary, ready to leave with the windstorms and downpours. Prettiness seems so fragile, more precious in fall.
I met an old artist friend, who now works as a gallerist. It seemed the worst critique she could give a piece of art was that it was “precious”. I’m sure she would have thrown the word “pretty” around like an insult too.
It seems we have moved away from prettiness, like we moved away from TB or polio.It is almost criminal or uneducated to appreciate the precious beauty called prettiness. According to Webster “pretty” comes form the Old English word for “tricky”, what transformations this word went through to reach its current meanings--- “ pleasing by delicacy or grace”, “having conventionally accepted aspects of beauty” or “appearing or sounding pleasant but lacking strength, force, manliness, purpose or intensity” --- I don’t I understand. But prettiness without purpose seems absurd, all the pretty little flowers that spend their days attracting bees, what sort of strength is that? I must admit I’ve always preferred the manlier aspects of beauty --the majesty of mountains, the garish hotness of reds and oranges, the architecture of agaves and yuccas. But right now at this strange intersection of time when the world seems a little too full of majestic hot architecture, I crave some prettiness.
And I found some.

This pretty china aster is not a agave. And I love it.

The not so pretty collapse of Colchicum 'Violet Queen'. Poorly sited and rained on, they were truly a momentary beauty.

Colchicum 'Waterlily', need I say "pretty"?