Colorful companion to my memoir The Incompetent Psychic
Come spring, Catherine, Blair and I talked about an ash-scattering ceremony, hiring a boat and arranging the flowers and music. Armloads of roses and lilies would be blooming in my garden in April. I Google-searched ‘ocean friendly funeral wreaths’, and found that florists use a thick circle of vines for the base. That’s fine for the environment, but certainly not propeller-friendly should an unlucky skipper run over it.
Anise grows invasively in the Carquinez hills, and during a walk with Faun I took a good look at the tall, dried stalks. They were strong and filled with what looked to be a hard, crumbly foam. Perfect! I picked ten about an inch diameter, cut them to three foot lengths, laid them into a couple of five pointed stars, then drilled and pegged every intersection with twigs — a floating base that would harm nothing. Bouquets of flowers were easy to attach with raffia. Joan’s favorites were calla lilies, and over two-dozen were blooming from bulbs she had given me long ago. White and yellow Japanese iris grew thick along the fence, so her wreath was glorious. My father’s wreath got a dozen flame roses (the color of anger), purple salvia that grew wild, and snapdragons. — From Chapter 15
Here’s my idea for the florist industry… or anyone who needs a floating wreath and lives where anise invades the California hillsides. A story of Benicia’s past suggests early Portuguese settlers brought anise roots that quickly adapted, seeded themselves like dandelion and established themselves in tall, perennial clumps all over. Their flowers perfume the air with the fragrance of licorice, and native plant societies try to eradicate them.
Anyone with an entrepreneurial streak could easily start a cottage industry by using anise for environmentally friendly (and propellor-safe) wedding and funeral wreaths at sea. It’s a Win Win Win idea — exploit an invasive weed, offer a safe solution for floating bouquets and potentially make lots of easy income by investing in a drill, nippers and raffia. You would also have to go for lovely walks in the early spring hills.
Just cut 3’ dried stalks, drill holes and tie a package together with five stalks, ten pegs and a couple dozen strands of raffia in a handy Ikea-like kit. I bet you could quickly sell out truck loads at the San Francisco Flower Mart. If I had thought of this before moving to the East Coast I would already be doing it. There are also many boats that offer ash-scattering services in the Bay Area. Our family chartered Memorials at Sea out of Sausalito for a wonderful way to experience a profound farewell.
If you want to use my instruction illustration, the nicest way to say thank you is with links to mernie.com. You’re welcome!
A signed copy of Mernie’s memoir is available at www.etsy.com/listing/839838936
Unsigned copies can be ordered wherever books are sold.