Saturday, October 22, 2011

Among the Purple Sage

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia Leucantha) in front of the Huntington Art Gallery

I read Zane Grey's classic Western novel, Riders of the Purple Sage, when I was little more than a child. I had no clue as to how purple sage actually looked, but my imagination was more than willing to envision a landscape painted every shade from puce to periwinkle.

As I grew older and began to draw botanical studies, I finally came across "purple sage" in the form of Mexican Bush Sage. It was a shocking experience because, as a native of Southern California, I had been living amongst it for most of my life!!! It wasn't some mythic flora from the remote wastelands of Utah; it was in my neighbor's front yard!

So, whenever I come across a beautiful display of Mexican Bush Sage, it always takes me back to both the whimsy of youth and that moment of revelation where the legendary is recognized in the quotidian.

Close view of Mexican Bush Sage

But, just because the purple sage has become a commonplace object, doesn't mean that it has lost its place within my imagination. If anything, having a firm mental image of the sage brings greater depths to my mental meanderings. ;-)

Sometimes, the everyday world has more beauty than even the greatest of artists can imagine.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia Leucantha)

Here are a couple vids.

New Riders of the Purple Sage, "Garden of Eden" (1971)


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