Farfugium japonica 'Kaimon Dake', Fall Flowers
Awhile back, I wrote that I had recently become enamored of the Genus Farfugium - here it is, the first week of November along the coast of South Carolina (in a county that went blue in a state that was red), and they are just starting to bloom. The flowers of 'Kaimon Dake' look nicer than I remember the flowers of the others looking last fall - I think I recall there were insects that were being quite unkind to the flowers last year. The others are just beginning to bloom - so I guess I'll find out if the flowers are as nice as these - or if this is something that is different between them.
These small yellow flowers are quite nice, aren't they?
Today, not surprisingly, we spoke of the election. We talked about the lines we stood in, our anxiousness as the election results began to come in - about how we thought anything was possible now. We thought about Virginia and North Carolina colored in blue - about South Carolina still in red, but with a blue swath down the middle and weaving through the counties along the coast. We talked about being relieved.
The homemade eclair-baking postdoc...brought homemade eclairs. Boy-oh-boy were they good.
One student talked about how she went door-to-door in the morning, to the doors of those in a public housing neighborhood who were registered as voting democratic - to see if they had voted. She spoke of how there were only two polling booths in her precinct - a third was broken. People stood in line for three hours...or more.
Everyone felt that McCain was very gracious in his concession speech. His audience and supporters were much less gracious - their boos were noticed - heard - by many (the Republican Party should perhaps reflect on this for awhile).
I personally liked the somber, serious and humble tone of Obama's victory speech.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there.
I said that I wished him luck - that it was a difficult time. One of my student's responded that the key is 'we', that the country wasn't just Obama's responsibility - what 'we' as citizens will do is critical. She hoped that the enthusiasm that his campaign generated will be maintained. My students are bright. Passionate.
(I've laughed at myself tonight, thinking about a post I wrote last summer, after a particularly difficult day at work - titled the 'the audacity of not hoping'. It was a really difficult day at work - something I'm still dealing with. But okay, okay - I'm hopeful. I mean the guy mentioned 'the front porches of Charleston' in his victory speech.)
So during lab meeting we did...also talk about lab stuff. About a pending biosafety inspection, and then we spent hours - as long as many stood in line - and worked on two presentations for Friday's Student Research Day at our university. One on dolphins and one on bacterial membrane vesicles. Fun work - both of them, fascinating data - my lab is good. On Friday my lab will present two talks and two poster presentations. I have no doubt that all four presentations will be excellent - it will be fun for me to see them on Friday.
After we discussed the election, and before the science, Katherine read us a Walt Whitman poem, or at least part of a rambling one, that she felt captured the day. Prior to reading the poem, she told us:
Modern American poetry has been characterized, I think rightly, as a response to either the strict formalist, Emily Dickinson, or her rambling, ecstatic contemporary, Walt Whitman. When I consider our historic decision to rejoin the great family of nations, and the jubilation in the streets, I am mindful of Walt Whitman’s inclusive, ecstatic vision of America. This is excerpted from his long catalogue poem, “Salut au Monde!”
 What do you see Walt Whitman?
 I see the battle-fields of the earth, grass grows upon them and
blossoms and corn,
I see the tracks of ancient and modern expeditions.
[...] I see the burial-cairns of Scandinavian warriors,
I see them raised high with stones by the marge of restless oceans,
that the dead men's spirits when they wearied of their quiet
graves might rise up through the mounds and gaze on the tossing
billows, and be refresh'd by storms, immensity, liberty, action.
[...]  I see African and Asiatic towns,
I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuctoo, Monrovia,
I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares, Delhi, Calcutta, Tokio,
I see the Kruman in his hut, and the Dahoman and Ashantee-man in their huts,
I see the Turk smoking opium in Aleppo,
I see the picturesque crowds at the fairs of Khiva and those of Herat,
I see Teheran, I see Muscat and Medina and the intervening sands,
see the caravans toiling onward,
I see Egypt and the Egyptians, I see the pyramids and obelisks.
[...] I see all the menials of the earth, laboring,
I see all the prisoners in the prisons,
I see the defective human bodies of the earth,
I see male and female everywhere,
I see the serene brotherhood of philosophs,
I see the constructiveness of my race,
I see the results of the perseverance and industry of my race,
I see ranks, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, I go among them, I
And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth.
After Katherine read the Walt Whitman poem, I told her about a Langston Hughes poem that I said I would post here tonight. It is also beautifully relevant to what has happened in this country this week. We, yes 'we', should all be proud. Langston Hughes would be proud.
(I am indeed being sentimental tonight!)
I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am America.