Why did that come back to me? It's something Soupy Sales used to say in the 60s. But I digress...
What do you do while someone is reaching into your maw with sharp dental tools, jack-hammering bastions of plaque from your chompers? As loquacious as I usually am, holding a conversation in this compromised position is less than productive—it can be downright dangerous. Actually, Meghan said my teeth looked better than she’s every seen them. Must be my final rinse with Tidy Bowl that’s keeping the bacteria at bay.
This time my strategery (thanks Dubya) was to breath deeply, melt into the chair to avoid tensing up too much, and pondering the connections between dental hygiene and the plant kingdom. Here are a few word play brain farts that managed to materialize in a few minutes of oral bliss:
Castanea dentata – American Chestnut. A more majestic tree you will not find, but being a Left Coast So Cal dude, I’ve never really stood “under the spreading chestnut tree” nor have I met the village smithy. But there is a Santa Barbara connection: Castanets. With our Spanish historic links comes the week-long summer Fiesta celebration, replete with brightly costumed flamenco dancers, high-stepping and clacking their castanets—slightly more pleasant sounding than the chattering of the Donner Party’s teeth (there we are again, with the teeth!).
Hibbertia dentata - Trailing Guinea Flower. I’m familiar with its lovely golden flowered cousin, Hibbertia scandens, but it looks like this delicate vine from the eastern tropical forests of Australia would grow just fine around here. To complete the connection, I understand that lot of Australians have teeth. See how that works?
Floss Silk Tree – Chorisia speciosa This is a stunning tree from South America, featuring copious displays of brilliant pink flowers on and off throughout the year. I haven’t actually tried flossing with the thread-like interior of the seed pods, but that’s where it got its name. Another killer feature—no I’m not exaggerating, these could kill you—are the massive thorns that adorn the light green bark of the lower trunk. Here’s a link to a few shots at my Flickr website. Remember, a flossed mouth is a happy mouth.
Just about the time Meghan reached my canine teeth, I thought about dogs, hence dogwood, which until last week, I thought didn’t stand a chance in Santa Barbara. But there’s actually a Cornus californica in the yard of a landscape architect I was interviewing for an article. It’s a graceful multi-trunk shrub right now and turning a delicate pink fall color. Live and learn! Photo at Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Atascadero, CA.
Now for the easy pickins (oh no, Mr. Bill! Not tooth pickins?)-
Crown – two in my mouth, one at the point where the trunk meets the roots; also another name for the canopy of a tree.
Root (hopefully not of the “canal” variety) – That’s why I floss and brush assiduously.
Stem – that’s the part of the tooth below the crown and if I have to tell you what this has to do with plants, please click away from this site now.
Did you know that your baby teeth are considered to be “deciduous”? Really. I’m going to have to find a little kid with a loose tooth and see if it turns a nice fall color before the fairy gets it.
That reminds me: To prove that I was probably dropped on my head one too many times by my big brother, when I see a little kid who’s lost a few teeth I ask if I can look at their hands. I exclaim, “I see you still have your baby fingers.” If they look perplexed I hold up my hand and show them how much bigger grown-up fingers are and explain that soon their fingers will fall out and be replaced with big people fingers. Most of them know that I’m kidding. Some of them are undergoing intensive psychological counseling to this day.
I gotta go. Time to eat some shiny Halloween candy corn.