Driving to Saugerties today, I noticed the loosestrife beginning to bloom. It looks beautiful, especially along roadsides where it is interspersed with chicory's pale blue blossoms. I'm wondering if I can find a place to stop and take some pictures. Each year I keep meaning to do this, and have not managed it so far. (Thus, a borrowed photo - not one of my own.)
I know loosestrife is considered to be worse than weeds - it's evidently very aggressive in its growth, taking over whole fields if it once gets a foothold. And yet, to me there is little more beautiful than a field of loosestrife in full bloom.
It has something to do with the color. Since I was about seven or eight years old, this particular color has been one of my favorites. I had then a set of pastels that included one stick labeled heliotrope - and it was just the color of loosetrife, lush and strong, making a thick, brilliant, almost oily mark across the paper. Why that color pleases me so I have no idea, but whenever I see it, the effect is almost visceral. Acres and acres of it is a pleasure as great and yet ungraspable as the scent of gardenias.
Somehow both of these experiences are particular revelations of impermanence: loosestrife is only seen in passing - no one plants it in a garden; and even if it were there right before me, even if I stared at it for hours, whatever it is about it that I love so much is beyond my keeping. Even when holding a gardenia, inhaling it's scent, the pleasure comes and goes with each breath.
It is the intensity of my pleasure in both experiences that also illuminates how far beyond my grasp they always are.