Random Gifts of Flowers
I guess I have a strange relationship with flowers.
I can’t seem to grow them on my back deck. I either under-water or drown them. I feel inept about arranging them. (Even though they are naturally beautiful, it’s hard to deny that some people have more of a knack for putting them together.)
Flowers are symbolic of things that were not right in past romantic relationships.
I remember when the young engineer I met In the French Quarter almost 40 years ago, later to become my husband, would turn away street merchants trying to sell him a red rose to give to me, with the line, “No thanks. I’m not hungry.”
Too often, it seems, people are shamed into gifting someone with flowers. And shame is never good to attach to a present.
Still, I fall under the spell of their beauty, their delicacy and ephemeral nature.
The other week, when I was walking in my neighborhood, I stopped in front of a garden on Eastwood. It was a small collection of flowers and shrubs and rocks. It was obviously meticulously tended. The owner of the house, a man in his seventies, I guess, wielding a special scissors, was cutting down peonies.
I felt compelled to say something. A garden so beautiful represents a lot of work. People that put in so much time in the grass and dirt make the whole neighborhood more beautiful.
“Your garden looks lovely,” I said.
“Damn, it’s going to be another scorcher today. These flowers can’t take the heat,” he said, then added, “You want a few?”
I didn’t even know the man’s name. I couldn’t imagine him giving me something, something from his garden, something he grew himself.
“I have to cut them all. We have quite a few in the house already.”
“They are beautiful,” I told him.
Snip. Snip. Snip. He handed me three and offered a little perspective.
“It’s best to put odd numbers together,” he said, and I thanked him.
I put them in one of my nicer vases as soon as I got home, and I thought about my unexpected gift.
I felt like I had a key role in the cycle of giving and receiving.
No occasion was involved. He just acted on a present moment impulse to cut down his fragrant peonies before they browned on their stems. I think he was happy to find a new home for them, happy to find an appreciative soul for what he had to offer.
I got so much joy from smelling their sweetness and looking at them in my living room all week. I was also happy feeling that I was somehow connected to my neighbor.
I probably would not be able to pick him out in a small crowd at a local farmer’s market, but, displaying flowers that were given to me felt so much more gratifying than bringing home a bouquet from the grocery store.
They were planted and watched over with care and devotion.
I loved the thought that someone wanted me to have something BEAUTIFUL.
Maybe this would be a good thought to keep in my consciousness; to look for opportunities, even small ones, to share things that are pleasant to look at or inspiring.
A random gift of beauty, like a random act of kindness, is no small thing,