Saturday, November 12, 2011


Subduction is an odd word.

It sounds like the bastard child of abduction and seduction.
But it is not. In fact, it is the opposite of what my dirty thoughts suggest: that is, not reproduction and thus the addition of something else, but rather a subtraction, a withdrawal, a removal.

Subducere, from which subduction derives, conjoins the prefix sub- (under, below, beneath, secondary, less than) with the root ducere, meaning to lead. Ducere makes me think immediately, of course, of Il Duce himself, with his corpse hanging upside down and all that that implies: secondary leadership, attempted escape, execution, withdrawal.

Yet the term has lost its ordinary meaning, having been adopted by geologists who will, no doubt, be puzzled by my application of a technical term of science to gardening. In plate tectonics, subduction refers to the process by which the edge of one crustal plate descends below another. Nine of the ten most powerful earthquakes to occur in the last century were subduction zone events, including the 2004 Indian Ocean and the 2011 Tohoku (Japan) earthquakes, both of which produced devastating tsunamis.

My autumnal world, it seems, is undergoing a process of subduction. A withdrawal. Sure, that is the cycle of seasons, yet there is something else going on: a subduction of color.

If subduction in the rear garden assumes various shades of yellow--a veritable pot of gold into which all colors are absorbed, made more spectacular by the golden canopy of the maple tree, then the front garden experiences a subduction dominated by hues of red and purple.

The Orange Marmalade hosta, having turned a brilliant shade of gold, begins the East Side Shade bed's autumnal glory,

and is joined by the Big Blue Angel hosta, which has turned  this brilliant shade of amber, accented by the leathery greens of East India Holly Fern.

Gramsci looks veritably pleased that the world has capitulated to his omnipotent handsomeness by turning his golden-boy shade of glory, though I surmise he may also feel a tad bit overwhelmed by the ubiquity of  "the color of him."

In the front garden, the burning bush takes center stage, and is complemented by the single petaled daisy-like chrysanthemum and the now denuded burgundy stems of Rose Mallow, and offset by the creamy variegation of the Siberian Iris.

Rudolph Waleuphrud Euphorbia begins to come into his own, his tips deepening their ruddy display in preparation for his Christmas pageantry. He's a one man show at that time of year, and he simply must shine.

In the meantime, Gramsci searches for the fresh green grass on which he likes to graze--grass that will no doubt in a few weeks experience its own subduction by winter white.


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