OK, OK! I get it. I was cruel bringing up sunshine and oranges and flowers. So I am going to do a two-fer today!
This is a story I wrote several years ago but since you all seem to be freezing I’ll try and warm you up a little bit, OK?
Yesterday my husband and I had a few errands to do in downtown Phoenix. Afterwards we went driving around some of the historic neighborhoods and decided to visit a nursery that we had received a gift certificate from. A lot of wrong turns and rambling around and we eventually stumbled across the little nursery tucked into the middle of high rises, vacant lots, boarded-up houses and parking garages.
The nursery gift shop and office was inside a small, 1910 bungalow and surrounded by wild, out of control greenery. The grounds around the bungalow were a potpourri of mismatched pottery, pots, broken tools and overgrown plantings with hoses in bright blue and neon green snaking through the profusion of leaves and flowers. Cement blocks held abundant pomegranate bushes next to flats of purple salvia, while lime green sweet potato vines ran rampant from black plastic pots. We wandered around for a bit talking of this plant and that. Trying vainly to think of places where we could integrate another 100 or so plants into our yard.
The proprietor wandered out after a while. This little garden creature was probably about five feet tall and tipped the scale (while holding a big potted plant) at 95 pounds. Her feet were tiny and bare and very, very dirty. Her crocheted garden hat was grimy and worn low shading a wrinkled and wizened nut brown face. “Oh,” she said, “I see you looking at my salvias. I am addicted to salvias!”
And then she launched into a 15 minute recital of why she loves them, why they are wonderful and why I needed to buy one of each variety. I told her we were going to remodel our backyard in the fall and I would come back and let her help me create a salvia planting and she clapped her hands in delight like a small child promised her favorite flavor of ice cream.
We sat on the cement steps by her porch and talked about gardens we have loved. I told her the thing I missed most was lilacs. She popped up from the steps and literally danced into the little house and came back with a picture of a Persian lilac bush. She told me I could grow them in Arizona and, in fact, had 5 in her own backyard. The fragrance was the same but there were a few special things the bushed needed to survive our summers. But, she promised, they would grow and thrive in our extreme summer conditions.
After her little speech she looked at me, carefully. She looked over at our shiny, car parked at the curb. She looked at my tennis shoes. I think she even noticed my short fingernails with a little bit of garden dirt under them. She reminded me of a little, inquisitive wrinkled bird tipping her head this way and that in studious concentration.
Then she said, “I think you might be the kind of person who could love a lilac bush.” I replied that I thought it would be difficult to find someone who didn't love lilacs.
“Oh.” she said, “you would be surprised. Lilacs have their down time, like everything in nature. People hate down time. They want their flowers to always be blooming, to never have dead leaves or bare branches. They want everything to be pretty and perfect and beautiful all the time - but it's not. If you can stand these Persian lilacs looking brown and dreary for several months they will reward you with flowers and fragrance. The flowers will only bloom for several weeks, but oh, it is heaven when they blossom.”
On the way home in the car I was uncharacteristically silent, looking out the window and thinking about her words. I thought how true they were - we all try to be perfect all the time. We apologize when our hair is not right, when our clothes are not right, when our house is not perfect.
But I think I am going to try living my life more like the lilacs - radiant, happy and simple, soaking up the sun and the sky and the clouds and the birds and going through the plain, bare and sad times with as much grace and peace as I can gather into my soul.
And on those glorious days that are perfect, the days when my granddaughters rest their petal soft cheeks on mine, the days when my husband and I sit doing nothing together but enjoying being together, the days when my hair is shiny and perfect and the breakfast toast and jam is especially wonderful- I am going to rejoice with my whole being.
AND YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL POST THAT STARTED ALL THIS FREEZING STUFF!
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