My friend and I were walking along the path behind our condo building last week. We had been deadheading some sad looking daffodils and stopped to admire a mass of iris. She and her husband had saved these bulbs from their previous home and stealthily planted them next to our building 3 years ago. As many of you know, iris spread…and spread. When you live in a condo, you sometimes have to get permission to plant anything. And when you’ve been a “house owner” for decades, it’s an unpopular concept. What could be wrong with sprucing up the place with some iris? Believe me, there are people who will count the ways. But don’t get me started.
Anyway, I am so grateful these purple iris spring from the ground each May. They are exactly like the iris I left behind at the house we sold almost 5 years ago. Iris that originated in my great grandmother’s garden decades and decades before. When you move in December, digging holes to plant iris bulbs is not an option.
So when my friend whipped out her scissors to cut off a small branch, I hesitated. It didn’t seem right somehow. They were so happy in the sun, swaying gently in the breeze. She was holding a stem with one flower and several buds all lined up together. Shouldn’t they be allowed to stay put? But before I knew it, she snipped.
I brought it inside, filled a bud vase with water and flower food and hoped for the best. After several days in its new home near a sunny window, the buds opened…one by one. Much to my relief and delight.
V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #100: Pause (...long enough to quiet the noise…)
I find this to be a congruous set of challenges happening in the same week. In particular, V.J.’s subtext to the topic of Pause…about quieting the noise. There has been way too much noise for me lately – on a personal level – more than I can often handle and process like I did “before.” To focus during the day. To sleep at night.
At the same time, I recognize the need for information, education – and change. All the noise urgently and justifiably vies for our collective public attention simultaneously. Ignited by fear. Anger. Not being heard. Not being properly informed.
I have no answers for any of this. I am just one single person among millions who are worried, tired and anxious. Many have more concerns than I do. Many have less.
Let’s try to get out of our own heads and pause. Take time to listen and hear and read what others have to say. With open minds. Whether it be the scientists with news about the pandemic and what to do next. Or our fellow citizens protesting for justice and racial equality. Or even the politicians who will shape policy – one way or the other. Let’s reflect. Reach within for empathy. And…again…listen.
And…make a commitment to get out and vote when the time comes.
What does this have to do with One Single Flower?
A mass of flowers draws my attention briefly. After a while they blend in together. In the relative quiet of the walking path.
But the single flower…the one tiny flower among many? That’s what stops me.
The one all alone “out standing in its field” as if to say Look at me! I’m important too!
Downsizing does not include nature. Except for a few small houseplants, you don’t take “nature stuff” with you…from a house to a condo. It usually doesn’t get donated or sold. For the most part, that’s okay. Some of the nature I don’t miss: weeds, massive wasp tree hotels, chipmunk holes, poop in the back yard from the cat next door, wasp nests behind the shutters, leaf piles, ants. Oh, right….and piles of snow that need to be moved. We left that “stuff” of nature behind.
The nature I do wish we could have taken with us? The flowers that came to life in our yard this time of year. The little purple crocuses that sprouted up around the maple tree; sometimes so early they poked through the last of the melting snow. Purple irises that originated in my great-grandmother’s garden in Cincinnati – making it to my parents’ house in NJ and then to our home of almost 37 years. They multiplied over the years and we transplanted them from one side of the house to the other. And then next to the garage. And later, we added trilliums, daffodils and black-eyed susans to the mix.
My husband and I moved to that house in early 1980. No kids yet. We were first time homeowners eager to start “decorating,” so we bought over a dozen tulip bulbs that fall. We ceremoniously planted them in a small patch of dirt next to the house (alongside the iris); with 2 little girls who lived next door watching over our shoulders. We didn’t know it at the time, but although tulips are “perennials,” they don’t last forever. Gradually fewer and fewer showed themselves every spring. Perhaps the salt runoff from the icy driveway killed them off. I think there may have even been a few years with no tulips at all. However during the last few years before we moved out, one tulip showed up. Hooray! A welcome survivor and salute to our first attempt at landscaping.
Lilies of the valley. I miss them most of all. Transplanted from my in-laws’ garden in the late 1990’s, they multiplied like crazy – gradually taking over the strip of dirt in front of the house. So delicate. So simple, green and white. Their sweet scent was like no other…when that huge patch was in full bloom, it took my breath away. Literally.
I drove by our former home a few months ago and spotted the crocuses. Next to the tree by the road…same as always. I slowed down, but didn’t stop.