Pepsi can

State Flowers

             One spring, a truck driver who has driven in each of the 48 continental states tilled his acre of back yard in the shape of the United States.  He dug up patches for Alaska and Hawaii, where he’d never been, behind the garage, cursing their non-contiguity.  He mounded up some mountains, bordered the contiguous states in green plastic and laid out his rock collection, one per state.  Then he planted state flowers.  Since he lived in Kansas, he started with Sunflowers.  Then others he could achieve quickly:  Goldenrod in Nebraska and Kentucky, Violet in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin (Wood Violet) and Illinois (Purple Violet).  Texas Bluebonnet, lots of it.  Vermont Red Clover.  Some more Goldenrod in Alabama, to mix with Camellia–they upgraded in 1959.  California Poppies.  He put the Roses in North Dakota and Iowa (Wild Prairie), Georgia (Cherokee) and New York. 
             Then Nevada Sage Brush, New Mexico Yucca, New Hampshire Purple Lilac–they would flower next season, perhaps.  Discouragement seeped into his garden when he contemplated the wait to see Maine White Pine Cone and Tassel–what were they thinking?  Or Louisiana and Mississippi Magnolias, if they survived Kansas.  And what about the North Carolina and Virginia Dogwoods?  Could he make an Arizona Saguaro Cactus bloom?  Years later, his Oklahoma Mistletoe (parasite on a locust tree) might put on waxy white berries. 
             He soon grew tired of the cultivation of variety.  So much diversity!  He tilled the U. S. of A. and planted red impatiens to create Red States, asters for the Blue States.  Simple, he thought.  Not much to remember.  Not much to think about.  And only a few states to replant every four years, come election time.  Although he missed the variety, he sure didn’t miss the work.  He took to sitting on the back deck with a 20 oz. bottle of Coke, surveying his domain, proud of his country.

"State Flowers" first appeared in Little Balkans Review








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