Until recently, whenever I’d have a bouquet of flowers, the moment they started to wilt, lose their ‘fresh’ look, drop petals, and fade, I’d dump them out as quickly as possible. I mean, who wants to look at spent flowers, right?
Hart lived his early childhood in Lebanon and the house they rented had one of the prep gardens for the Emir’s palace. He remembers that when the plants were just about to go into their flowering stage, someone would come dig them all up to plant them in the palace gardens. The gardener said that as soon as something stopped blooming at the palace, they were to remove it and replace it with shiny new plants. Maybe this happens at the Biltmore too.
One dawning day, I realized how fixated I was on fresh, perky, perfect-looking bouquets and plants. Just like my culture has taught me- youth, new things, bling, all that is in its prime- that’s what is to be admired and the face to put on, yeah, everyday should be perfect!!!
That’s not reality nor healthy and I don’t want to succumb to that cultural lie anymore. So I began to leave my flowers on the family altar to watch them transform. By the time I throw them out, the water is gone and the stems are moldy. The vase stinks. And I still find them beautiful, their brown, yellow and rust tones and the seeds that form, and what petals remain and the shriveled ways they dry and how skinny they become, their fullness leaving day by day, eventually nothing left but a skeleton of what once was.
Our plant elders teach us about life’s cycles. Nature constantly shows us there is a season for it all- birth, growth, prime, rest, decay, rebirth. Why have we chosen to put so much emphasis and importance on being in the Prime part of life’s cycle, when it’s evident it is only a small part? Some days I’m going to look and feel crappy just like my garden and that is ok. I’m not going to apologize for it. And neither should you.
These flowers pictured are only 9 days in the vase- they are fading fast and will continue to do so and I will observe and appreciate and admire how unapologetically they surrender back to dust.