Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Elements of Plot

The elements of plot are finally all in place. The storyline is now complete.

Exposition: in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico in October, 2008 Mars notices the dried hollyhocks towering over the entryway to Monica's and Bram's newly acquired driveway (and house).

Foreshadowing: Daughter-in-law Monica explains the proper propagation procedure for this finicky floral colossus.

Inciting Force: Mars scoops some dried seeds from the dormant hollyhock, places them into a used plastic ZipLoc snack bag, sequesters the polymer repository in her purse, and transports it (via Southwest Airlines) to our home in central Connecticut. Within days of their arrival she applies them to the fertile soil in our newly forming perennial garden -- formerly our vegetable plot.

Conflict: Nature balks at this human intrusion into its weed-centric stratagem.

Year 1 - two barely recognizable hollyhocks poke just inches above the surface. Neither rain, nor sun, nor Miracle-Gro can coax them any further. That autumn the inciting force reenacts her southwestern seed snatch and sow.

Year 2 - apparently angered by Mars' persistence -- something that I personally find quite endearing -- Mother Nature pours on the rain ("You want water, I'll give you stinkin' water!"). Those seeds that are not washed to the Gulf of Mexico sprout into rust-infected, haggard hollyhocks. That autumn -- you guessed it -- another iteration of Mars’ swss&s.

Year 3 - moderate rain in early spring then D-R-O-U-G-H-T!

Rising Action: Hollyhocks evidently love this meteorological mistreatment. Two of them shoot up to ten feet in altitude. Other shorter, but still formidable, ones surround and protect the tall-fellows.

Crisis: In attempting to document the above experience I am overcome with an all-consuming need to understand the history of the word "hollyhock". After several days of spurious research and illogical reasoning I conclude that the large reluctant flower is the etymological twin of America’s first cup-candy, the Mallo Cup.

Neither Mars nor I have ever tasted a Mallo Cup, let alone ever heard of them. In spite of Mars' well-earned sense of satisfaction (and my vicarious pride) in her successful cross-country cultivation, we both are plunged to the depths of despair by our potentially permanent non-existent acquaintance with this marshmallow cream filled/ chocolate and coconut coated delight.

Climax: Because of Mars' recent bilateral knee replacements we stop about once an hour during our seven-hour drive to a Golf Elderhostel Camp at Penn State University. At one of our breaks on the interminably long Interstate 80 Mars has a mysterious hankering for a Mounds bar. After walking for ten minutes we sidle into the tourist center and search the vending machines for the coconut-enrobed-in-dark-chocolate confection. There are none.

Then Mars says, "Do you see that?" I do not.

She points, and then I too spot it -- the yellow wrapper with brown and red lettering that reads "Boyer Milk Chocolate Mallo Cup." We barely make it back to our car before the "whipped crème" center is melting in our mouths.

Falling Action: On our way home, at another I-80 rest stop candy dispenser, we purchase two more packages of Mallo Cups. We eat one immediately, and transport the other across state lines to place in our home refrigerator.

Resolution (Denouement): They are even better cold.


andy said...


Candy Freak by Steve Almond - Follows his journey to check out regional candy as well as himself. I would call it a new yorker style, but hipper. Me and Liz listened to it on one trip to Vermont (we got it at our library).

(his latest is pretty good too but a different subject matter http://feltoblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-ive-been-listening-to-part-1-2010.html)

andy said...

golf elderhostel sounds even cooler