"PURPLE SHASTA" by Linda Kinney

Our dad was a teacher at heart, although this was not his profession. Our evening meal was always precisely at 5 p.m., when Dad got home from the Air Force Base. Everyone was in attendance for dinner with no exceptions, unless we were on our deathbed or in the hospital. This did happen to some of us a few times, but we were informed personally of important discussions. You may think I am joking, but seriously, you may ask any of my brothers about it. Dinner was our family time to tell of the day's events and get anything that was bothering us 'off our chest'. This way everyone heard together and would ask questions if we did not understand. We could never later say, "I didn't know about this!" or "I don't understand!"

We were a happy group most of the time. We worked hard, but we played hard. Dinner time was also a teaching time. I remember the night Dad 'threw out' the biggest word I had ever heard, asking if any of us could spell it. My older brother was 8 years old and my youngest brother was 2. Another brother and I were in between. The word was chrysanthemum. Next came the laughter and questions. "What?", "Is this a real word, Dad?" "You expect Roger to spell this word? He IS only 2!" After the laughter ceased, everyone got serious as Dad told us the meaning of the word. "Oh, a flower. This makes it easier." And for me it did because I loved flowers. When I knew which flower it was, I just broke the word  into syllables, wrote a song, and memorized it. I have never forgotten how to spell it, chry-san-th-em-um. That was the first large word I learned. For years people looked at me oddly when I said the word because they only knew the shortened version, 'mum'. The other person and I each learned something and I began to say 'mum', as to not seem a nerd, which I definitely am not.

"Purple Shasta" is dedicated to our Dad, our main teacher of life and it's treasures. He loved everything about it and devoured every second of his short life of 56 years. He never met a stranger and changed everyone who crossed his path for the better. I am truly blessed to have been given such a man to me my Dad.

This painting is a 5" (12.7 cm) square oil painting on gallery-wrapped canvas. It is part of a set of 4 flower paintings owned by my cousin, Dee. The collection also includes "Sunflower", "Hibiscus", and "New Rose".

Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China in the 15th century BC and became popular in Japan between the 17th to 19th century. The Imperial Seal of Japan is a chrysanthemum and the institution of the monarchy is also called the Chrysanthemum Throne. There is even a Chrysanthemum Day in Japan.

Chrysanthemums entered American horticulture in 1798 when Colonel John Stevens imported a cultivated variety known as 'Dark Purple' from England. It is the most popular flower in the world, after the rose. The traditional colors are yellow, white, red and purple, but also pink, lavender, bi-colored and multicolored. It is the November flower, and symbolizes joy, optimism and also grief. There are 40 wild species and thousands of bred varieties. They are categorized 13 ways the most common are daisy, spider, cushion, and button. Many common flowers are of this same genus family including Aster, Sunflower, Daisy, Dandelion, Marigold, Dahlia, Coneflower, Goldenrod and even the Artichoke, which is a popular food in America. Chrysanthemum is an edible flower with health benefits including relieving headaches, sore throat, fever, dry and itchy eyes and indigestion. It makes a tea which is known for its enticing aroma. It is a good idea to have several varieties of mum growing in your garden. They also make a beautiful bouquet and you never know when you will need one to give away or enjoy.