The milkweed pod season is upon us. Soon, if not already in some places, these nondescript little pods will begin bursting with the chill night’s air, spilling out their glorious contents for all to see. Clouds of silk-covered seeds cling to stems waiting to be released with strong gusts of wind.
When I was a little girl, impatiently prying open milkweed pods with strong little fingers, I used to call each silk-tufted seed a “little man”. “Look Mommy! There are millions of little men inside this pod!” Then I would spend the next minute tearing the hardy, hair-like bundle of white from inside its sometimes yet unripe pod, holding it by the seeds and rubbing the tightly packed white silk all around my face, like my daddy’s shaving brush, feeling the softness of the while silks. What a delicious sensation! I would continue this sensuous brushing of my face now and then until the tight bundle of seeds would eventually crumble apart. Peeling the rest apart I would then blow them off my little palm, crying, “fly, little men, fly!” as they took off into the breeze.
How warm would be the days of those walks with my mother, rich with the sounds of “sewing needles”, the smells of deep grasses and growing apples. So very deep into the country we were, wandering the roadsides and trails of my parent’s ancient farm property. Lining the roads and trails would be hundreds of milkweed pods, spilling out their frothy contents. Some seeds would even pass by us on the tiniest of hot breezes, gently floating, almost seeming to defy gravity. Each “little man’s parachute” (as I’d dubbed the white silk) glistening in the near-autumn sunlight. I can still feel my mother’s sure, firm touch upon my back and shoulders, or clasping my tiny hand in her larger, work-worn one, as she occasionally would help guide me over rougher terrain on the pathways. I can still hear her deep, sing-song voice as she’d croon some tune that would come into her head as we ambled through fields and forests on land yet seemingly untouched by the grimy, oily layer of man-caused dirt that now seems to cover everything-- even that which was once deep away from civilization during my childhood.
I hope you enjoy this artwork. I tried to capture the golden morning light filtering through the silks of the seeds and highlighting the delicately tough pods. Sometimes turning my art into “paintings” more accurately represents not only the vision of what I’ve photographed but the feeling of it too. -June Mohan
Photos: (Copyright Mohan 2007) To contact the artist, please send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.