Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Stealth Miss(ile)

When I am bereft of flowers, I go on the prowl.

A few days ago, I saw pink jasmine growing near the Palace of Fine Arts, so under cover of darkness, I headed out tonight. I walked up and down streets near the Bay, unable to remember where I had seen them as I hadn't thought to make note of it. I didn't know I would need to. I have scruples. I never steal flowers that grow on stems, nor do I take my clippers as that would be lacking in spontaneity, even crass. Premeditated. I do not ever take them from private property, although public areas are fair game. Purchased flowers are always welcome, but sometimes I just crave the home-grown variety.

On one corner, an official-looking sign was attached to the street marker: "Suspicious activity will be reported to the police." Those Neighborhood Watch types never give up. Some garages had heat-sensors that set off spotlights when someone walks by. Those houses didn't even have flowers to steal. What were they protecting? A few dogs barked from inside. I barked back at them. They barked louder. So did I. I am a very good barker. I always have the last word.

Flip refuses to accompany me on these excursions. He does not have a clandestine bone in his body, and considers me a criminal because I do. The wind was whipping and it started to rain. I don't know why Chicago is called the Windy City, probably because whoever claimed that title had never been here.

I grabbed a bough twig of pink jasmine from the grounds of an elementary school and headed home, hair plastered to my head.

It had been awhile, but the body remembers. Like riding a bicycle. I know I should hate myself, but I really, really need flowers around me. I need them in a vase by my bed so I will have sweet dreams. it can't be a bad thing as I have never heard of a 12-Step program for flower thieves.

Still, it seems that I have not reformed, as I imagined. I just didn't need to pilfer flowers while I had a backyard full of them. Now that I don't, I'm back in operation. Old habits die hard.


velvet girl said...

Aah, flowers.

Not everyone has your scruples in their pursuit of flowers. I spent lots of time and money preparing and planting the front garden at a rental apartment of mine years ago and people just picked all of the flowers. Grrrr!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


We had the same experience when we owned a house. People just helped themselves - with clippers. And I always knew exactly what was missing because I was on very friendly terms with my garden.

Other peoples' gardens are sacred and definitely Off Limits.

Anonymous said...

Oh late night criminal activity. There is nothing like it. I miss the stillness of night, the focus of the task, the heart beating in my neck.

Stealing flowers sounds like a great deal of fun.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I don't really think it's the thrill of the hunt. I just require flowers, especially fragrant ones.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am shocked and speechless that you exerted so much energy to steal some flowers. I cannot fathom the criminal mind. It's not as if we are talking nuts and seeds here cause that's a different story!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I needed them.

I adore nuts and seeds, too, but I've got that covered.

Liz said...

Now that my anonymous ranunculus are withered and dried up, I'm feeling the craving for some more flowers. I've seen some lovely honeysuckle at the apartment building next door. I haven't had the courage to snip any off though.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I love honeysuckle. I think it's fair game as you're not depleting or destroying anything, as you would be if you snipped their roses or irises, say.

As for the ranunculus, it's obviously time to go back to Trader Joe's and break some hearts.

Christina_the_wench said...

I'm calling the floral police right now. That is a confession if I ever heard one.

Next time, steal some calla lillies for me, will ya'?

Anonymous said...

wow, I need more of you and your flower abilities and less of my green thumb. Gotta admire a girl who goes after something she wants.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Sorry, babes, no calla lilies. They grow individually on stems, which is against my code.

But I would appreciate a bunch for my jail cell.


My mother once said that "flower" was my first word. It may be my last, too.

flutter said...

somehow an entire night blooming jasmine ended up in front of my apartment. I just thought it was the flower fairy...

Stewart Sternberg said...

Occasionally I walk the kids in my school...the teens and I stroll the neighborhood, faces turned to the sun. But when we return to the dank inner recesses of the school, one or two of them almost always have a flower in hand, one that they've filched from someone's garden. OHHHHH.....GUILTY WITH AN EXPLANATION???!!!!! If there is a hell for lovers of tulips, fans of rhododendrons, coveters of chrysanthemums, or rapers of roses, then at least it will be a perfumed place.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It was. Did you leave her some old teeth or something?


Well, okay then. But if it isn't, I'm not going.

EsLocura said...

I love a good thieving excursion. Flowers are lovely and well worth the possible need for a 12 step program.

Bob said...

I will admit to late night "scavenging" missions when I was a college student. You'd be amazed at what is in the basements of some of the buildings on campus.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


We all have our vices. There are so many more interesting ones I could have, but don't.

You have to play the hand you're dealt.


Honey, you're preaching to the choir.

Sven said...

There are worse things to be guilty of...just stay away from my peonies.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Mmmm, peonies.

Robin said...

Someone who appreciates beauty in flowers should not begrudge you your thievery!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I like your attitude!! Pass it on.

thethinker said...

Wow. I thought my mom was the only one who stole flowers.

Once, she even made me drive the getaway car.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Wow! What did she steal, the statuary, too?

Jay said...

I feel like I've just found out a dirty little secret...flower thief...I never would have guessed.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yeah, it's true.

But you'll still back me for my Nobel prize, right?

meno said...

You...scofflaw! I will be alerting the Department of Homeland Security. I'm sure they'll be interested in this suspicious activity.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


How many flowers will it take to buy your silence?

thailandchani said...

Most of my garden, including the roses, are all from slips I've acquired here and there. Mostly there. :)

I don't like people to pick the roses out of my yard but certainly don't mind someone snarfing a slip.

In the backyard, I never pick my flowers for some reason.



Professor Howdy said...

Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I would never snarf someone's personal flowers. Nor would I take more than one from the same wild patch lest I inadvertently thin the herds.

I have picked Blue Flag from freeway medians and daisies on country lanes, but never taken roses from anyone's property, although I do sniff them in passing.

Prof. Howdy,

Thank you for coming by. You have an entertaining blog.

Sienna said...

This sounds like so much fun, flower aquiring and appreciation...I would love to do this, the drought has reduced all hope of flower life here...although I do have my flowering red ironbark gumtrees that I share with the honey eaters.

I would like to go adopting flowers of an evening with you Hearts! I maybe a little handicap though, blind as a bat at night, would hate to think what I would come home with...and would need to take a portable floodlight...too much?

Pam of the Roses..

Lulu (Dan's cat) said...

Oh boy. I'm the world's most infamous flower thief. But I can't help it. I'm a damned cat! I love to chew on and destroy all the colorful things around the neighborhood. It's hard work!

Can I get a belly rub?


heartinsanfrancisco said...


Don't go rappeling at night.

I like your way of putting it, "adopting flowers." I'm sure we can work something out.


MMMMmmmmmereeeeeowwwww. And meoooooow, pfffffffsssst and hissssssssss.


Anonymous said...

HinSF - I mentioned you in my post yesterday, with total admiration.

Ian Lidster said...

Sometimes this bit of deviousness can bite you on the ass. A couple of years ago my wife and I saw a beautiful little clump of pink ladies slippers in a vacant lot. The lot was to be developed so, even though they are a protected species, I decided to rescue them. So, at dusk we went up and dug them up, brought them home and planted them.
They took almost right away and gave us lovely blossoms throughout the season. The next year they had seeded themselves and we ended up with about a dozen lovely plants.
This year they seeded themselves, and seeded themselves, and seeded themselves to the nth power and we have about 47 trillion ladies slippers growing in our side garden, in the lawn, in other gardens far away with a veritable Frankenstein's monster of ladies slippers. Be careful what you wish for.


Cece said...

You must be related to my kids! Good lord I'm always telling them to stop stealing flowers! lol

la cubana gringa said...

Hmmm...perhaps I should put my succulents somewhere safe...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Oh, goody. I just love total admiration. That's almost as good as slavish devotion. Can you work up some of that, too?


It sounds as if you have a veritable Imelda Marcos lawn there. As least they're not endangered anymore.

But what I wish for is lots of pink jasmine, and any day now, the pink jasmine fairy will deliver or some heads will roll.


Can I come over and play?

La Cubana,

Not to worry. I have lots of cacti and succulents in pots. Really, I'm a thieving pink jasmine specialist.

Molly said...

If it's perfume you're after go steal some Confederate jasmine...mmmm! Are you also an orchid thief,oops! I mean adopter? If so ,I've heard there's a very good book on the subject, from which you could glean some tips....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I do not steal orchids, although I love them. They only come in pots with price tags on them. Pricey price tags.

"The Orchid" thief is great. Susan Orlean also wrote a short story collection called "The Bullfighter Checks her Makeup."

I don't steal makeup either.

Anonymous said...

Slavish devotion? You got it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If I knew how to make heart symbols, I would send you a whole line of them.

I'll have to make do with smiles.

:<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<) :<)!!!

Jocelyn said...

I regularly go out for runs and come home with bouquets of wildflowers in hand.

This speaks to me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Ohhh, wildflowers. I love them, too. They are beautiful and gutsy, true survivor flowers.

They speak to me, too.

Crankster said...

Pilfering? Stealing? Such nasty words.

How about "re-purposing beauty?"

My heart runneth over... said...

I love this story! It's not your fault though... I know! It's the flowers... they beckon us like cookies to a dieter! So you see, it isn't you or me or any of the secret flower poachers out there! Love the smell of jasmine! :)

Happy poaching! lol


heartinsanfrancisco said...


Re-purposing beauty!! I love it.

I always knew that corporate-speak (academic-speak?) must serve some purpose other than excluding those who don't speak it.


Blame the flowers. It's THEIR fault. They made me do it.

I can work with this. Thanks for your help.

Open Grove Claudia said...

You can come and steal my roses any day. Just don't break off the stems, Ok?

Actually, you are providing a "dead head" service. Your neighbors flowers will grow back bigger and better. Or at least that's one way to justify it....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You give me too much credit. I do NOT take other peoples' flowers, ever. I only borrow them from public "venues."

But thank you for your kind offer of roses.