Tag Archives: flowers

Weddings and Flowers

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“The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”  –Robert Louis Stevenson

This is delayed, but tonight I collect my thoughts about the royal wedding.  I admit, I was more than happy to wake up in the middle of my night to watch two strangers marry.  I was excited, not sure of what to expect.  I just knew, as I went to bed, that I wanted to wake up and be a part of something historic, to watch with millions around the world. 

I was sad, when I flipped on the television, that I had missed most of the ceremony.  I thought I had calculated everything right, but I was misinformed.  I was hoping to see Kate walk into the church and barely got to see the couple walk out.  But I stuck with the newlyweds.  I watched them leave the church, ride away, kiss, and begin life, husband and wife.  I did this with a joyful heart.  The much-anticipated dress was lovely, but so unexpectedly ordinary.  It could be on any bride, fit any ceremony.  The two walked down the aisle and the future king gave side glances and small smiles as he met familiar eyes.  They invited friends and family and the people who sell them candy. 

The thing that I loved so much about the wedding, what made waking up more than worthwhile, was the splendid ordinariness of it all.  Yes, they are royalty now.  Yes, it was expensive and pretty.  But they were a happy young couple committing to life together.  The now historic second kiss they snuck was incredibly unrefined and loving.  The stories of Prince Harry’s “survivors’ breakfast” for the guests who could stay up all night was exactly what a best man/brother should have done.  The queen, after the royal reception, left the castle to the couple and friends.  Yes, it was a castle, but it was not much different from the wedding of my friends.  It was beautifully, refreshingly normal. 

That same week I went to see the famous flower fields of Carlsbad.  I had wanted to visit them last year, but did not make it out before they closed for the summer.  I was so excited to go see these acres of blooms.  I wanted to practice a little photography and see if I could get a good shot or two.  I woke up early, made the drive, paid my entrance, and excitedly entered the fields.

The fields were pretty.  There were a lot of flowers.

There were many kinds of flowers there. 

I am glad that I went.  I wish that I had gone a little earlier in the season because some of the flowers were starting to wilt and die, but it was nice.  It just wasn’t the overwhelming experience I thought that it would be.  Perhaps I had built it up too much in my mind, but I expected…more.  I expected breathtaking.  I expected.  I may have expected too much.  I liked the flowers, but had thought I would be inspired, I would fall in love, I would rave about it and never want to leave.  I was satisfied rather quickly, much faster than the driving I did to get there and back.  These famous fields simply were not as great as I thought that they would be.  In fact, possibly my favorite part of the field was a mistake, something only I seemed to notice:

It struck my, on the way home, that it was the ordinary, the unexpected that moved me.  This magnificent flower patch was pretty, but it did not make me feel like I had hoped it would.  Instead, I thought about the yellow flowers (okay, weeds) that line my route to and from work.  The wall of yellow against the freeway, following the river bank, makes me happier than most things these days.  They are my flowers, my spring, my joy.  Today I spotted this poking through the parking lot fence:

I made sure to return and take a quick picture of it on my way home from the grocery store.  These are the things that I love deeply.  They are the everyday.  They are the common beauty.  They make this city of concrete and this world of pain a little more friendly and beautiful.  They are the free, accidental gifts of life.  They are quiet and simple.  This is what made the wedding great, the flowers stunning: the unremarkable.  The simplest things bring the most awe.

Happiness is just outside my window/ Thought it’d crash blowing 80-miles an hour?/ But happiness a little more like knocking/ On your door, and you just let it in?”  –The Fray, “Happiness”

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Everything’s Coming Up Roses

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“The flower is the poetry of reproduction.  It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.”  –Jean Giraudoux

 

One of my favorite things to see is a small plant that I pass on my way to work.  I have no idea what it is, but it grows right out of the cement where a traffic sign is planted.  It starts small and gradually grows taller than the sign.  It is so striking, the bright green against the gray of the sidewalk and metal sign post.  It’s a tired symbol, the life sprouting from the dead concrete, but it’s no less moving.  Despite the strength and sheer volume of the pavement, this small plant emerges.  Life finds a way to go on, no matter how hard its circumstances are.

I also walked through the mall today.  There is a wall that usually is covered in beautiful vines.  The powers that be cut down the plants to small stumps, leaving a long stretch of empty wall.  The plants grow beautiful pink flowers and delicate leaves.  I love walking past the bushes, despite my usual hurry, and missed them when they were cut down.  However today, as I walked past, I happened to look down at the little stumps.  The wall still stands empty, but down by the ground, less than a foot tall, stand new green vines and a handful of flowers. 

I don’t know what it is about flowers that makes people so happy.  Sure, there are the colors and and the genius of their form and symmetry.  But I can’t explain why we bring them inside and admire them, cultivate them.  There are only a few whose scents I really enjoy.  Real flowers, that withstand the trials of the average garden or field, not those grown to be identical in greenhouses, typically are full of insects and holes.  Nibbles are taken out of leaves and stems don’t stand straight.  And then flowers die.  They sag and wilt and shed their leaves and petals.  Flowers don’t last.  I think that is also part of their allure.  They are temproal, fleeting.  The only way to enjoy a flower is to enjoy it in the present.  You can’t put off flowers until the budget is balanced or school is done or whatever excuse fits your purpose.  The flower won’t wait around for you. 

However, the brevity of flowers isn’t the only thing that is refreshing.  In fact, it’s the cause of something I think we also love about them: flowers come back.  Their buds bloom and drop and their leaves wither and die, but in time, they bloom again.  They grow up each spring and thrive again after pruning.  In fact, they require the cutting and dying and hibernation to bloom and flourish.  I find it comforting that in the short weeks since my vines were cut down new ones have taken hold.  Sure, we share this world with other humans and animals, but there is something awe-filled about plants.  Their life and resillence are so simple– they don’t need jobs and families and skills to hunt or farm or find shelter.  They simply are.  They live and grow and die and grow again.  They do not worry or stress or fear or envy.  They are life at its simplest and, in some ways, most beautiful.  They are humbling. 

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”  –John Ruskin