Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Quest for the Golden Raintree!!!!

The beautiful Golden Yellow blooms of the Raintree.

Talk about Romance, How about a Golden Raintree and a Purple House. Where is Alice?

    I do not believe, that I can look at a Golden Raintree and not be taken back in mind, to a former day and time. There is Romance, War, Sadness, Happiness, and Mystery, all wrapped up in those branches, bearing those long golden blooms.
    The story of the Golden Raintree is  long, complicated, and excites in  a  novel like, experience,. un-written, just flashing through my mind, like a movie.There  has always been Romance associated with the Golden Raintree,  from the opera, "Flower Drum Song", to a best selling novel. "Raintree County", and even a block buster,epic, of a movie, "Raintree County". Once you see the trees burst open in full bloom and fall gently to the ground below, making a golden blanket up on the ground, you can not help, but to fall in love with them. My little Mid- America town, Clarksville,Mo. is full of these Golden Raintrees and they are, yes indeed, in full bloom. Close your eyes, as you look at my pictures and see if you don't see the same, Romance and Mystery, come to life.

     The Golden Raintree-or "Goldenrain",   are from  Asians ,where the trees first came from. The correct name is, "Koelreuteria  Paniculata". It is  popularly grown as an ornamental tree in temperate regions all across the world , because of the aesthetic appeal of it's flowers, leaves and seed pods. The seed pods look like lanterns on a string, and  in the fall, many floral designers, collect them, and use them in there arrangements. The seeds are edible when roasted, but  not commonly consumed. They are considered a  invasive species and hated in some places. I think ever seed that falls, grows. Often called weed trees, because of this reason. Sometimes known as stink trees, as when you break a branch ,there is a bad smell.  None of this sound Romantic, yet?----Just be patient, you will see.

    The Golden Raintree, is also known in some parts of the world as, "The Pride Of India". or,"China Tree"
They are native to Eastern Asia, especially, China and Korea. It is not really known how they made it to the United States. Some people  believe they were imported here, on spice trade ships ,from Asia. They are a small to medium sized deciduous tree and domed shaped. They bloom in mid June to early July. The flowers are bright yellow with 4 pedals, growing in a large terminal, down hanging, in  a weeping effect. In the fall the blooms turn into a lantern looking seed pod. Some say that the seeds were scattered all over the United States by Johnny Appleseed. Now, there is some Romance!
   In 1948 a Novel by Ross Lockridge Jr, was the start ,of making the Golden Raintrees, what they are  today.The title of this novel was, "Raintree County". Raintree is a whale of a book, in every sense of the word. It took six years to write and several more years to do research, before the writing could take place. It runs 1060 pages. It is a Great American Novel. A bold drama full of love and conflict. A love story as daring and  frank as any other ever written. There are secrets,  mental illness and demons to be  fronted.The story is told all in one day, July 4th,1892. Replete with history, romance and adventure. The tale is brillantly intertwined with a series of flashbacks.It tells a story of a small town in mid-western America. There is a teacher and poet, named John Swanessey, who, in younger days, before his service as a Union Soldier in the Civil War, meet and married a beautiful Southern Belle, however, her emotional instability leads to the destruction of their marriage.  The novel, set in fictional, Raintree County, Indiana, is essentially in two parts, before  and after the war.It spans the 19th century, history of the United States, from Pre-Civil War, Westward Expansion, to the debate of Slavery,the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution and Labor Movement, , which followed.  The book takes readers on a quest to find the legendary Golden  Raintree, which supposedly was planted somewhere in Raintree County by Johnny  Appleseed.
     In 1951, the  film rights for the movie was bought from Lockridge by  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, for $150,00.00 and a movie, by the same title, "Raintree Country", was made.  The movie, was filmed in Louisville,Kentucky, and stared, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. And Eva Marie Saint played the left behind sweetheart. It was filmed toward the end of Hollywood's Golden Age, in the tradition of a great traditional Civil War Romance. The movie was lavishly conceived, made for the wide screen, with a great musical score by Johnny Green. The film premier was in 1957 in Louisville, Kentucky.My best friend in St.Louis, was Richard Haley, he was from Louisville and  the movie company rented his family home for Ms. Taylor to live in during the filming. That makes the whole story, even more Romantic!
     Suzanne, played by Elizabeth Taylor, is a beautiful Southern Belle who tricks  Shawnessey, into marring her, by saying she is  with child. She is surrounded with  mystery from her early childhood ,when she lost her parents in a house fire., that some people think she started.  She was raised by the Black Nanny, whom she thinks, might be her mother. She has a thing for dolls and keeps them in the bed she shares with her husband. Shawnessy drifts away from his child hood sweetheart, played by Eva Marie Saint, to his loveless marriage to Suzanne. Swanessey who is a teacher and poet, spends the most of his free time, looking for a rumored Raintree. No one really knows if it actually exist. Suzanne driven by the fact, she might be part black, runs off into the swamp in a rage  and is found at the end of the story, dead, under the falling golden flowers, of a Raintree. Now that is Romance!!!!!

From the Movie,Taylor, Saint and Clift, visit the home  that brunt when Suzanne was a small child, killing her parents.

From the movie, Raintree Country, my favorite scene, where Taylor and Clift get rid of the dolls.

Taylor was a true beauty and made for this part.

   If you have not read this book, I would suggest you do so soon. It is hard to put down and the 1060 pages go fast. The movie, is just about perfect. The only other, I like better, is another Civil War story, "Gone with the Wind". Taylor is young in this movie and is more beautiful than one can imagine. She plays the part with great passion. Her Southern  actions are the best, I have seen. She gives her best performance during a scene when her and Clift,  get rid of the dolls. I always set on the edge of the chair when this takes place. I just want to pitch a few dolls out the window along with them.I would say, if you have not seen this movie, do so, soon.
   When I was restoring, My Old Historic House, I had to make a decision,  on what kind of porch rails to use. The original ones were long gone. Doing research, I came up with some cast iron ones, that had a lamb under a Raintree. I knew there was no reason to look any more, as this was it. Having the Raintrees in Clarksville, and the love of the movie and novel on my mind, I had no choice but to pick these . I get so many people, who comment on them, stop and take pictures of them ,and I only wish I could tell this story, about the connection, to them and the Golden Raintree.
   When the Raintrees started blooming, I knew I wanted to share this story with all my friends on the Blog.  I wish you could come see me and Sissy Dog while the Raintrees are in bloom. Take a tour. I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a big jump and a kiss. If you get a chance, I would suggest you plant a Raintree. They grow very fast and there is a wonderful story behind those Golden Blooms.

The porch rails at, My Old Historic House, with a lamb, under a Raintree.

A real beauty.

This is how the seed pods look in the fall.