The Swamp Road Chronicles

 

"Moon Flower"

Dear Publisher,

 

Well, I am now a registered member of the Swamp Road Sally Experiencer Club. Ms. Sally and I had a run-in last summer. First, I want to explain what I was doing on Swamp Road at midnight on a muggy June night.

I am a botanist, I am an adjunct professor at a large state university. I had been very busy compiling data for a monograph I was preparing to present at the Botany 2022 conference at The Dena'ina Center in Anchorage.

 

Influential and ground-breaking papers were to be presented by leading Botanists such as Dr. Rachael Spigler and her "Floral Longevity and the Pollination Gamble: Know When to Fold 'em" presentation. I was in an exceptional group of acclaimed botanists and I wanted my presentation to be as compelling and insightful as possible.

 

My area of specialty is Night Blooming Flora, my paper was specifically relating to the "moon flower" (Ipomoea alba). 'Moon Flower' as it is commonly known is a perennial that blooms at night and when it does it releases a most wonderfully fragrant scent. It's a very strong, and very sweet scent. The blooms are very large on some varieties. I had been watching a small cluster of plants growing on Swamp Road. I was carefully monitoring the plants as the buds ripened. I wanted to be there when they sprang open so that I could video the event. They open quite suddenly; blink and you will miss it.

 

Moon flowers are quite poisonous. The plants in this genus contain toxic compounds in the form of the alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. The entire plant is toxic, containing primarily scopolamine. The plant normally grows in warmer regions, but the ancient swamp soils of Pigeon Swamp are capable of sustaining the Moon Flower through very cold weather. Also, those same soils are high in decaying vegetable matter which keeps the soil a little warmer than other area soils.

 

I had my camera focused on the most promising cluster of buds, and I was ready when it happened. Just after midnight, very quickly the buds burst open, the perfume spilled out and I saw it and filmed it all. I was so delighted. I looked up from my video camera's view finder and there she was-a lovely young woman in a long white nightdress. She seemed oblivious to my presence, as she stood head bowed, smelling one of the beautiful white blossoms. I was fascinated, I just stared at her. She stood there for several moments and then lifted her head up and slowly faded away.

 

I had a night that I will never forget, and sharing the moment with Ms. Sally made it that much more special.

 

Submitted by Professor Anonymous, 5-24-2023

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