Flowers on Sunday in August

The shapes of trees are so distinct in glaring summer sun – even at 7:30 am – I imagine I can see every leaf, no matter how far away, as I drive out to the farmer’s market.

This Saturday morning, though, the trees’ silhouettes melted in the moist August haze, shadowless layers of blackened green, linking the earth and the milky grey sky. Farther down the road, the soft bumps of brighter hills and groves rose like far away mountain ranges. The ditches are white with tangles of Queen Ann’s Lace, and bright purple asters are starting to shine. Summer in its flurry – but getting ready to hand off soon.

There’s corn this week, and the tomatoes are run amok. The dark red wash on the viburnum leaves and berries hints at autumn. Lisianthus keeps coming, in all her ruffles and gingerly folds. Why ever would you say “no?” to such a fun party girl? It rained too hard this morning for me to get into my community plot – but I know the cosmos are there, taking over everything.

On Friday the Thrift Gods, in their wisdom, ordained I should acquire exactly the right table cloth to make my dining room happy – along with sundry other requirements that have been eluding me, such as the Right Drinking Glasses and another tarnished silver Thing For Flowers.

But even more, They bestowed on me a cabinet of incomparable kitsch, decorated with plastic mother of pearl ladies and servants mingling in golden green hills painted on a perfectly black background. I have waited out lesser temptations for almost a year, too broke and disheartened to risk buying the wrong thing for my new home. I was hoping for The One – and my faith was rewarded with a Treasure. Oh, it is every bit as wonderful as you are imagining.

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Flowers on Sunday Here and Now

I drove out a little earlier on Saturday, and I was glad I did. The farmer’s market isn’t supposed to open until 8:30, but at 8:05, people had already lined up for Peggy’s flowers – buckets of lisianthus, sunflowers, viburnum, rudbeckia, snapdragons and even a few stems of sweet peas. Then Ann indulged me with every flower I could cut from her garden – phlox and mondarda and tiger lily – and I cooled off in the kitchen after, with talk about books and her visit from artist, Della Wells. (We are both Big Fan Girls.) I’m pretty sure I dreamed about lisianthus Saturday night, while they revived with long drinks of water in the dark, sweeping their petticoats up and up like belles at the Folies Bergere. Or maybe it was their dream. I can’t ever be sure who has the dream first – the flowers or me.

It’s already August and my friend pointed out the morning light is changing, almost imperceptibly. It hesitates just a few more moments, catching you awake while still in its golden phase – somehow a little poignant and still. Summer has turned its corner, and weight of the leaves and fruit She grew can move in only one direction now.

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Flowers on Sunday at Once

The sunset-orange waves of ditch lilies have passed, replaced by tall, sandy seed heads of grass, light as feathers and bowing in unison as the wind ruffles through.  And  everywhere the white caps of Queen Ann’s Lace – infinities of tiny flowers pulled to order along thin arches of tender stems, like so many flying buttresses.

I try to see all the greens – but we don’t have enough words for them.  A carpet of deep, flat soy, a wall of thick, sharp corn – each following the dips and swells of the land. Woods gather along the horizon, with more species than I can name – but certainly there are ash and cottonwood, maple and oak, hickory and walnut.

And I cry while I’m driving, for the lonely Saturday morning, for the sliver of purpose I’m clinging to making this trip – all there is to shield me from the glare of my failures.

Because I can at least so deeply love this place and the ordinary magic of its summer sky covering over the greens.  And I can go a little ways to find flowers I never would have had, brought to life by people I can know and thank.  And this, despite everything can’t be denied – to see all the summer greens and watch the nodding dance of lace and grass and never wish to be anywhere else.

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Flowers on Sunday Summerful

There’s so much summer right now.  I thought I could fit it all in – but where is the Queen Ann’s Lace, the helianthus, the milkweed and ditch lily?  The scarlet monarda, and the dry, hay-sweet yarrow – and the flirty, fluffy cosmo?

Here are zinnia and nasturtium, and cornflower and petunias and hard, immature grapes as opaque as jade.  Echinacea and lisianthus, the Prairie Rose – who folds as many petals in her skirt as any spring ranunculus, buds curled high along her serpentine stem, and ready to unwind their treasure.

I don’t know if this is good looking, and I don’t really care.  All the pleasure was in the doing.  How lovely something can be in your own heart, never mind what others see.

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Flowers on Sunday in the Green

I know we are supposed to do as much as possible with every minute of our time, in order to be worthy human beings.

But I need a slower tempo now.  More rests and sustains.

It feels good to drive a little ways on Saturday and buy the flowers Peggy grows.  It’s enough to hear the unmistakable voice of my friend Ann talking to the Lily Grower as I drive away from the market – and head to to her house in the meanwhile, to unload my bucket of flowers into the shade and wait for her to get home so we can visit.

The trees are flashing the silver behind their deep green leaves, like white caps measuring the currents of the breeze.  And the embankments are thick with stars of orange ditch lilies and bursts of blue chicory.  The stands of corn and distant groves of shade trees slope up and away, passing like July before you know it.

I can’t think of any better way to be filled by my time.

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Flowers on Sunday Julys

Some things you don’t want to know will take a year – even if you know or suspect everything will work out.

This month marks a year since I got the notice I had to move out from my home.  I know everyone wishes I would seize the chance – after so many years as a roommate – to find joy and self-expression making my own home again; a silver lining from the upheaval I went through.

But it turns out relocating was one upheaval too many.  After the move, I was too numb and exhausted at first to even believe in my surroundings, never mind inhabit them.  Then in late October, I started crying every day – and tears filled November, December, January and most of February.

The past week or two, though, a long-dormant feeling has begun to stretch and yawn itself into my awareness:  I live here.  For now, for as long as I can manage to pay for it, these rooms are my place in the world.  Yes.  It’s home.

Things don’t have to be perfect to be a blessing.

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Flowers on Sunday Last Peonies

There might be another peony Sunday – but I’m not counting on it.

So here they are, the last Sunday peonies, retreating into their own soft shadows, like hazy reflections of June’s disappearance.

And I’m drifting off, too, my dears, into my own Sunday dreams.  It’s late already, and the breeze feels too good.  I’ll have to write you more when I see you next week.

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Flowers on Sunday Selfie

I come to this empty page on Sunday night not knowing what I’ll say – or who I am writing for.  It’s one of my most constant and familiar places, this page.  A place I land weekly now, and where I have made my way through years of grief and hope.  Wherever my haphazard life had led, I always found something to say right here.

The hooks that you hang a story on are really so small.  A trip to the farmers market.  The uneven success of the garden. How I found the mock orange, neglected and forgotten, behind the old Taco Bell.

Just sitting in the garden with Ann or on the porch with Sherri – something so important happens.  I hear all about life – real, normal life, belonging somewhere and to someone. As we sit, the birds sing the very same song of place and pairing.  I’m like a sponge, absorbing a moment when we are outside our struggles, and our lives are just as we say they are when we tell our friend how our week has been.

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Flowers on Sunday – A Wonder of Peonies

Our weather forecast looks bad for the peonies.  They can’t endure a blast of 96 degrees looming on Tuesday like a bad trip to the dentist.  So between Thursday night and Saturday morning, I probably mooched my full 2022 ration of garden peonies from the yards and gardens of my most indulgent friends.

I’m not complaining.  I can barely take in the wonderment of riches I carried home.  The fragrance penetrates so deeply between memory and the present, it erases everything but its own clarion intensity.  And the buds are astonishing – full to bursting with petals that unfold in what seems like the blink of an eye.  The last thing I did before leaving Ann’s house was to cut a single, ripening bud from her golden Bartzella peony.  In the 45 minutes it took to drive home, the bud transformed into a creature glowing with layers of light, its heart crowded with thick yellow stamens.

I can’t do the peonies justice.  I’ve surrendered that aspiration.  All I can do is wonder out loud, for all to see, at the abundance of their magic.  And thank them every day – and I do – for making my world so beautiful for a while.

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Flowers On Sunday On Monday, Goodnight

I wait all year for this time – when I can devour the peonies, heart and soul.
Indulge in their infinity of pink, as caressable as skin.

Yielding but self-assured,
like any living creature here to fulfill its destiny.

Encounter their improbable, unjustifiable beauty –
a pilgrimage of senses
to meet the force of that tenderness,
unfolding in myself.

Because there is no other way to find their blooms, to inspire their wordless fragrance – except by the light
of your own lovely petal shine.

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