Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Time to stop and smell the (last) flowers

My zinnias and hydrangeas lasted until last week, and I have been enjoying the last vase of them on my kitchen table. They are still hanging kidding!

My hydrangea plant (Endless Summer variety) bloomed like never before, providing enjoyment through some of my more anxious moments this summer and fall. As readers of previous posts may remember, I spent quite a bit of time collecting and drying hydrangeas. My efforts were successful, and I now have two beautiful arrangements in the house.

A lot of people commented on my hydrangea post, including my friend Margaret, who wrote, aptly, “The only solution to most anything is to live life one hydrangea at a time.”

My mind jumped into the future in a way that hindered my enjoyment of the last hydrangea. While I love having flowers on the table, I have also been trying extra-hard to
minimize my carbon footprint (and watch my budget while out of
work). So, I thought, if I buy fresh flowers, I am indirectly contributing to the use of fuel to have the flowers trucked to my market, and to the waste of the plastic or paper in which the flowers will be wrapped.

But I am also contributing in a positive way to my own mental health.

I thought of alternatives: I could use the bowl of fake flowers that my sister, Diane, brought to the hospital, where fresh flowers were not allowed. The flowers look so real that nurses and doctors often told me, “You can’t have flowers in here!” Then I would hold the bowl upside down to show them that the yellow and white flowers, though beautiful, were not real.

Then, woah, I said to myself. What happened to being in the minute?

And then I told myself that I do plenty of things to save energy, like keeping the lights off even when it’s cloudy and keeping the thermostat very low. So if I want to buy flowers for the table, I should!

In the meantime, I pulled myself back to the present. I drank my coffee and admired the flowers on the table. Then I went outside and said to the hydrangea bush, “Thank you, plant.”

I also tried to shift out of the melancholy that came with realizing that this sign of summer was finally gone...for now.

With a child’s wisdom, Katie had years ago already reminded me to stay in the present. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but I think it was around the time of my father’s death nearly seven years ago.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened,” she said.

A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning out a cabinet filled with junk, when I came upon a piece of paper on which Katie had written that quote years ago. For some reason, it was on the back of a cardboard cutout of a smiling purple squirrel. Needless to say, I’m keeping it.

So…when we look back at the so-called normal part of our life that existed before s--- happened, I guess we need to say, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

And, when have a nice bunch of flowers on the table, we have to stop and smell them without worrying what we’ll do when they’re gone.


barala said...

You should listen to Katie more! A wise child ...

Susan C said...

It gets to be a complicated algorithm doesn't it, when making purchasing decisions like fresh flowers. Cost, convenience, environmental impact, aesthetics, pleasure. But it sounds like the pleasure brought by fresh flowers trumps the other factors.

Of course, I live in an area where fresh, locally grown flowers are available year round. (But I'll try not to rub that in.)

Vytas said...

Yesterday I looked in my garden for flowers to cut and you're right, pretty much kaput. But the huge deep red sedum heads and a few hold over purple hydrangeas said, "Pick me, pick me!". So I did. They actually look kind of "royal" in the living room. A change of colors from the summer. Not bad though.

On "your budget" your "carbon footprint" is baby bootie the fresh flowers.

Nelle said...

Last year I purchased two hydrangeas and one had ONE bloom and the other had none. I was so disappointed. I did feed one of them and it seemed to make no difference. Any ideas? Each year I swear I will have a garden to cut flowers from. This year I was able to have a rose several times from my one rose bush but other than that only my daffodils did well.

Baby Bird said...

I cannot believe how much we are alike every time I read your blog. I have written so much about my garden and flowers and their power over my healing. (Thanks for injecting guilt for my carbon footprint when I buy them.)

And I just finished a blog EXACTLY about "Don't cry that it's over. Be joyous that it happened."