Chasing the Dragon

dragon-ornamental-ironThere is (or was) a mysterious objet de’ art in our family. We call it “The Dragon.”

My grandfather, an ornamental iron worker after blacksmithing no longer supported a wife and five children in the early 1900’s, made The Dragon for my grandmother, just before they separated.

The first time I saw The Dragon – in the late 60’s – Grandpa (Arnold George Akerman) was already gone. But from the moment he died to the present, The Dragon has seduced its children and slain its admirers.

The simple story was that Grandpa made this for Grandmother (nee Mary Zula Graham, who refused to be called ‘Grandma’) for her Nasturtiums. I imagine she buried nasturtium seeds in soil in the dark orange bowl of this wrought-iron stand.

Nasturtiums tolerate heat and bright sunlight, and could do well in their Texas Hill Country locale. (There may have been more heat than light in the marriage and divorce of the A-to-Z Akermans [Arnold and Zula], times two in case the first time was a fluke.)

Mother brought The Dragon home, though she insisted the only thing she took from her father’s house was his Bible, which Grandpa’s second wife, Juanita, insisted Mother have. Uncle Dale drove down from Oregon with a Pickup Truck, prepared to take away as many tools as possible from Grandpa’s workshop.

Aunt Hazel, who lived in the same town with Grandpa and Juanita, deserved her due for all the care she’d provided over the ages.

All five adult children stood on the front lawn, screaming epithets toward one another, throwing $20 bills to pay off this or that debt – gas for the drive from Oregon – and crying to extricate themselves from the tangle of the interlocked offspring of a distant father.

dsc071192For the second and third generations, it was all about nasturtiums. Edible, both the flowers and the leaves. Or, as I like to call these beasts, oedipal.

Isn’t it all about the fathers and the children, unto the third and fourth generations?

So why do all of us, to a person, as the grandchildren of this blacky-turned-ornamentalist, grow in our gardens nasturtiums?

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