Rhododendrons Of Nepal

In the spring of 1968 I won a rhododendron from my sisters’ high school south of Boston.

I didn’t think much of the prize.

My father planted the bush by the garage.

A month later light purple flowers burst from the branches. The neighborhood girls admired the rhododendron’s scintillating beauty and I proudly declared to having won its beauty in a raffle.

I was a boy with a flower in the Age of the Flower Child.

The bush survived the the End of the Hippies, the Silent Majority, punks, Reaganites, harsh winters, and sweltering summers, but after my parents’ sold the split-level ranch-house, they left behind my rhododendron.

Several years ago I had my sister drive by the old house on Harborview Road. The new owners had renovated the old place, but the rhododendron was larger than ever.

Maybe a good ten feet tall.

They can grow even higher.

Nepal’s Solu valley fifty kilometers south of Mt Everest is much more meteorologically forgiving than the surrounding Himalaya peaks and the Sherpas’ terraced slopes provide an ideal botanical refuge for the giant rhododendrons of Asia.

Some are reputed to be over 90 feet tall.

And the best time to view them is now.

If only I could be so unlucky to get on a plane and fly to Kathmandu, but no one is flying the empty skies to anywhere in the Spring of 2020.

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