Nancy D. Valladares





A FICTION ON HERBARIUMS

May  1925

One of Dorothy’s greatest pleasures was sketching in the gardens. She had a select few spots overlooking the valley where she would sit and draw the jungle-covered hills, the matted vines and squirreling animals of Lancetilla. She had picked it up during her time at Kew, where there was no lack of inspiration. Tracing the work of botanists and naturalists of the 18th and 19th centuries, she had spent a great deal of time at the herbariums studying the plates and plant specimens from the tropics.


She found a way to make this her own, in her corner of the world, where no one could force her to conform to a certain style or form as everyone seemed to want to do these days. It was through these informal studies that she began to notice patterns and repetitions that would emerge among specimens. The persistence of these forms and their extraordinary qualities had changed something within her. Even as she pursued her own path, she sometimes thought that her life was a bit like a dream or a play that would repeat in front of her as she lay in her bed on the nights she couldn’t sleep.


Those sleepless nights seemed to become more and more frequent. She was restless and would toss and turn in her sheets, damp with sweat that had simply become a staple of her reality since arriving at Tela. Late at night, if she thought about it too much, she thought she heard singing and whistling at night. She told herself she wasn’t one to believe in spirits, especially not the ones that she heard about among the workers of Lancetilla. Instead she tried to listen to the different frequencies of the crickets and the never ending cacophony of bugs at Popenoe house. Wilson, oblivious to her discomfort in his deep sleep, simply snored away.


-DHP