I have an affinity for flowers that close and open depending on the time of day. I was ready to come here and write about how I don’t know why they do it, but that seemed lazy and lacked curiosity, so I looked it up. It turns out that science does not know why some flowers close at night. I suspect science knows even less about why some flowers close during the day. There are a couple of theories, mostly to do with protecting pollen and saving energy. There is a word for this circadian reaction in plants. Nyctinasty is plant movement in response to the onset of darkness. I wonder if there is a word that describes a plant’s tendency to open in response to darkness, like the moonflower, or if nyctinasty encompasses both closing and opening in response to the dark.

If you are expecting this to lead you somewhere profound, you might be in for a disappointment.

I saw my psychiatrist today and cried through 75 percent of my appointment. This is not a sympathy-seeking statement. It’s simply a fact. It’s too early to say, but this might be a routine I’m settling into. It suits me nicely — I like having a set time to be sad and frustrated. I left the hospital without checking my face in the mirror for tear streaks and the like. I realized this partway up the street and turned around to go back. But I decided against it. Instead, I stopped a woman. Excuse me, I asked, does it look as though I’ve been crying?

I lack a filter. Thoughts and opinions pour out of my mouth with little thought to the consequences. By this, I don’t mean I’m unkind. At least I hope I’m not. But I say things before considering if they are appropriate to the time or place or person. It’s a kind of laziness. And maybe a franticness, too. There are so many stories to tell and things to say and conversations to have and there doesn’t seem to be enough time. I don’t know how to say all the things that need to be said without a constant stream of words flowing from my mouth. Even if there isn’t a listener.

I was talking about flowers with Elfi last week. She said, I love tropical flowers. I love how they are precise and exact, like sculpture. Orchids. Birds of Paradise. Those are my favourites. I admire Elfi. She has a grace and precision I envy.

My favourite flowers are wild. Yarrow, violets, forget-me-nots, primrose, Queen Anne’s lace. Flowers that grow on trees and rain their petals down on you in a breeze. Flowers that are chaotic and messy and seed themselves anywhere.


About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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5 Responses to Nyctinasty

  1. God that was beautiful!

  2. I like your reflective post on flowers, mixing in with a good cry session. There’s something comfortable about starting and ending with the precision and behaviour of flower – like a buffer for the life stuff, all of which a kind of beauty and timing. Great post!

  3. Robyn says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog after hearing about it on the I like you podcast. Reading your thoughts is somewhat cathartic for me. Having suffered thru my own bout of cancer, breast that is, some of things you have written feel like you took a peek inside my brain. I find that I lack a filter as well and say the first thing I think or feel. I’m not sure if it’s because of the cancer or not. To be honest sometimes I’m just too tired or in pain or just sleepy to go thru all the social niceties we are taught to be a functioning member of “society”. I also don’t like the term survivor. I feel like I got thru it and it was hard. I’m not really a joiner or a rah rah person so I just mostly did it on my own with the help if close family that is. For some reason I don’t want others help much less pity. Although when radiation was at its worst it was nice to have my mom around to baby me. People always ask me how are you doing it got to be annoying. I just replied I’m fine, even if I wasn’t. It seems like you become more the disease than the person. But anyway. I find your words sad, inspiring, and funny at the same time. On more than one occasion crying for both you and myself. Dating has been an issue for me as well. Either I couldn’t find anyone interesting or didn’t have the energy to be bothered. I think having cancer helps you weed out those who you think would be assholes if you told them. I’m usually honest right up front. I mean I can’t even get past how my breast looks now so how could he? I guess that’s now my new level he has to meet besides do you smoke, drink, drive, and are you employed. Anyway I just wanted to say you are an amazingly brave writer and I look forward to reading more from you and I will keep you in my prayers, not sure if prayers work but they sure can’t hurt.

  4. Ashley says:

    I like forget-me-nots too.

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