Tuesday, June 17, 2003


Lately I have been thinking about what makes writing interesting to read. I've been thinking about the things I most enjoy reading, or that affect me most. Interesting topics help, but I think "honesty" is what makes something engaging and worth reading. "Truth" is a little too blunt or clinical. "Honesty" suggests some emotion, some confessing, opening up and showing vulnerability.

It would be truthful to say that I like flowers. It would elaborate the point to say that I love flowers. But neither of these statements reaches a level of honesty that stimulates interest.

Flowers can be described in seemingly contradictory ways which is an attribute of them that I like. Flowers are fragile and audacious, delicate and bold. Flowers are elegant, sophisticated and refined. Flowers ramble and spread, clutter and sprawl, carelessly dropping seeds and opening their petals with abandon.

I love the face of a flower when the petals are painted, like a pansy's, and one can imagine it has a beating and affectionate heart, and confections under its pillow. I love the slow blooming, awakening of a tightly furled rose bud. It opens wider and wider, the color deepening or fading, but changing every day until it is as open and lush and as promising as it ever will be. Roses open like a precious secret that is gradually revealed. Zinnias reach for the sun and suddenly burst forth, brass blaring, color dazzling and with the volume of the night sky on the Fourth of July.

Every season there is a flower that is my favorite, or is it every time I turn around and see a new one blooming? My sweet peas are fading in the late Spring heat. Their once tender tendrils are brittle and browned, the seed pods are drying too. But I cannot pull them up. Not just yet. There are still a few blossoms, lavender, magenta and shell pink. They are still hanging on and delighting me with there delicacy and grace, and especially with their fragrance. Sweet peas are the smell of a fairies' tea party, of morning dew and twilights' goodnight kiss. In the Fall I'll plant their hard, round seeds again, then gather the flowers in Spring to love all over again.

Children should plant sunflowers and petunias. Sunflowers, because they are towers that defy the limits of expectations. Like children, sunflowers follow the light and willfully reach for the sky. Sunflowers have broad open faces that are packed with potential, hope and color. Petunias are varied and fragrant, colorful and happy. They are old fashioned and sentimental. They grow easily enough, but with tenderness and caring they can flourish and spread and be remarkably hearty. Petunias, like children, want to be loved and appreciated, and under your watchful, adoring eyes, they will show you how beautiful they can be.

I love flowers, from seed to fade. I love their smell and feel, and the way they fill a corner with color, or stand up to the wind and the rain. I love tidy little beds of violas and alyssum, and hillsides spread all over with poppies and bluebonnets. I love the small and clustered, blue flowers that cover the woody, stocky branches of the rosemary shrubs. I love the smooth length of a calla lily, with its gracefully opening spade. I love the way dandelions call to children passing by, "Pick me. Pick me!"

Look in to a flower's face, and find the world inside a world. Open your heart to the fascination of a tiny, pretty something, with a cycle and a process and a promise. See it beyond words and description. Be inspired to willfully reach for what seems out of your grasp.

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