Kathie GibboneyBy Kathie Gibboney      June 24, 2022

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ODE TO AN AGAVE
Photo by Micael Anapol Old Canyon resident Kathie Gibboney is enthralled with the agave plant in her yard that grew, like Jack’s beanstalk, with lightning speed under the Summer Solstice’s Strawberry Moon.
Rising majestically from the side of our hill, the Agave Americana stalk is in bloom. It stands impressively proud, colossal, defiant. Each day, in fact seemingly each minute, finds it taller. I swear if I turn my back just for a moment, like a game of Red Light, Green Light, when I look again it has inched up another three feet, showing off as if saying, “What water shortage?” Although the cactus is known as the Century Plant, it does not bloom every hundred years. It can send up the stalk any time between 10 to 60 years, usually in the month of June. It is however, something called monocarpic, meaning it will only bloom once in its life time then die, which seems sadly poetic. Now, towering at well over twenty feet, it is a stirring display of the final feat of its life. Ah, but that I, at my end, could produce a glorious goodbye bloom, a farewell spectacle that shoots out rainbows; becomes a glowing star to light a traveler home; sings one clear note; or be granted the ultimate beatitude of performing Ophelia’s monologue to perfection as I expired...for real. For now, I live to bear witness to the plant’s final performance and appreciate being given my own personal magic beanstalk. Unfortunately, I’m reminded of having once directed a children’s play I adapted, Jack and The Beanstalk From Mars. My son, then young, was often unwillingly drafted into many of my productions and claims this one to be the worst play I ever staged. I think a little something called The Pied Rock and Roller of Calabasas, complete with the lead actor brandishing an inflatable toy guitar while hankering for pie, could arguably be the bottom of the Drama Camp barrel. Yet I’m sure Beanstalk was a clinker in its own right, which I hardly remember except for bribing a kid to play a cow. I recently read the story to some children and realized just how lazy a lad Jack is. He loiters along with Milky White, the cow, instead of going directly to the marketplace to sell her, as his poor mother directed. Then he falls asleep. When an old man appears and offers to buy the cow not for money but for magic beans, Jack goes for it, probably because it will save him the long walk to the marketplace. I give Jack some credit for climbing the majestic stalk that grew overnight, but upon arriving at the top, he turns thief and steals the giant’s gold, this after the giant’s wife gave him bread and milk. Later he returns to steal the goose that lays the golden egg , and yet again, makes off with the magic harp. Here I find I want the after-story. How did Jack and his mother go through all that gold? Did they open a restaurant? What happened to the goose? Did it stop laying? Did they eat it? I’m sure people would pay Jack and his mother good money to see a talking, singing golden harp. They could take it on the road, sell tickets. Never did Jack think to save any of the ill-gotten gain, seek active employment, or wisely invest in some going concern. At the end, he chops down the beanstalk thus killing the giant. I prefer the version where, as Jack desperately chops, the giant scrambles back up the stalk returning safely to Giantland just in time. This is not a warm fuzzy story for children, what with the threat of being eaten, but it’s kind of fun to say together, “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman,” leaving out what might disturb impressionable young minds: “Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” Overnight, like the beanstalk, in the time it takes to read a children’s story, our plant has produced chandelier-like branches with seed pods clustered at the ends. It’s like a Christmas tree decorating itself. There on the Topanga hillside the seeds will become her children and I wonder if I will be here to see them bloom. I have heard that the great stem can be used to create some kind of tequila or mezcal. The Beleaguered Husband seems to be a man with time on his hands and in constant search of a side hustle. Perhaps he could bottle his own brand to rival George Clooney’s brew. Imagine! Mike’s Mystic Mountain Mezcal, Flying Pig Tequila, or Old Canyon Crock XXX. I know the agave has a mythic and sacred history and wanting to pay homage to its life here on this sod, a celebration is in order. So, on the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, we gathered to share margaritas and propose a toast to her majesty under the gentle, lingering light of Summer in the impossible year of 2022. In June she blooms upon our hill, Soaring high above it all, To give her heart, before the fall.
Kathie Gibboney
      June 24, 2022

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JUNE 24, 2022

THINKING OUT LOUD
NEWS
ENVIRONMENT
Topanga before today
ARTS
LONG DISTANCE LISTENING PARTY
ALL THINGS CONNECTED
MY CORNER OF THE CANYON
ASTROLOGY