Poppy princesses…May 19, 2010
From my perch on the stone wall, I watch the girls pick poppy’s with their Mamie. The girls are not looking, however, for the open flowers. They are on the hunt for the unopened bud. Mamie has taught them how to make poppy princesses and they are determined to make a whole kingdom of these delicate ladies.
This is how it’s done: pick the unopened poppy buds. They are oblong in shape and have a fuzzy, rough texture. You snip them below the bud leaving a small part of the stem attached. Then you open the nodule to reveal the red petals all crinkled and delicate like a lady’s crinoline dress. The head is made from the poppy’s center after it has lost it’s petals or as the girls prefer- you pick a poppy and de-petal it. The center is then stuck on the bit of stem to form the head.
The poppy’s, or Coquelicot, line the fields and the sides of most roads each spring, sprouting up like the dandelions in the backyards of Pittsburgh. This year, our fields are barer than usual maybe due to the cold and rain of the last few weeks. It’s only been a day or so since I noticed fields of poppy’s while driving.
This delicate little flower that I’ve always admired is the symbol of both sleep and death; sleep because of the opium extracted from it and death because of its blood red color. The corn poppy is the most common in France and is considered a badge of war as it is most abundant in fields of distressed soil. It was the only plant life to grow in the shell shocked northern fields during World War I. I picked my first French Poppy in front of Mt. St. Michel 18 years ago on my first visit to France and I still have it pressed between the pages of the photo album.
A ‘discussion’ is taking place near the ‘castle’ or swing set as to which poppy princess should become the queen. The search is on as it has been decided that the queen should be made from the rare pink poppy. This ought to keep them busy for the next hour.