Monday, July 2, 2018

Cutting Flowers in My Mother's Garden

It's so interesting, the way I notice the flowers dying as I write about the memories of this place.

It brings me a curious peace as I go about my mother's rituals in her home. Especially the flowers.

She welcomed me with hydrangea, a profusion of flowers in crystal vases, and today I will cut hydrangea and roses. They caught my eye the day I arrived. The 'bump out" rose bushes look like they're having a bumper crop. I'd also like to see the morning glories on the fence. They are the wild vine with white blossoms. 

Why didn't I think to plant moon flowers along the fence when I was here in May?

My mother keeps the house filled with fresh flowers. It's one of her rituals. I've watched her watching them. She notices when they are starting to fade and rearranges the blossoms in vases, plucking out the spent blooms. At times, she gathers all the vases into the kitchen and begins again. I thought I would be doing that today, but so many of the vases just had a stem or two that was spent. So I rearranged the vases in the living room and took away two small vases to the kitchen before going into the garden.

The sun is hot. The house is cool. The garden carries the fragrance of roses on the breeze. I move through the space being with the abundant green and growing things. The hydrangea bushes swelter with blooms. The soil must be alkaline because the blooms are pink. All manner of pink, from very pale to a deep raspberry color. There are some curious deep purple blossoms as well. I take my time as I decide which stems to cut and bring into the house, pausing to notice and to be with the beauty.

The roses are a bit disappointing. I've waited too long to bring them inside. Still, I manage three stems covered in blossoms and buds and an armful of several shades of pink and purple hydrangea. I put those in the dining room where I am writing. The roses go into the living room. There aren't quite enough to fill the vase, so I think I may get up and make a change there. I'll give the roses to my father. I gave him roses also when I was here just before Memorial Day and we decorated the graves. Roses and laurel.

My mother has other rituals I follow when I step into her space. Cleaning the kitchen and the dishes after every use. I tend to wait and wash the few dishes I use at the end of the day or at the end of a cooking project. But I am finding here that I keep the kitchen always tidy, as my mother does. I'm not quite as tidy as she, not at all. It's interesting to see that I can do it if I want to. Maybe I'll take some of these rituals home with me.

I had my own rituals once. When I had a home and a family I was caring for. Divorce was jarring to my rituals. A new space, boxes of the dregs of a life and the precious things of a life that is no more, are difficult to go through and process. Six years after I moved out of my house I am still wrestling with them. 

Or perhaps I am wrestling with myself.

I think there is some truth to that because I've had to stop writing so that I can cry. And I've let the tears come. I'm in a safe space, infused with love that holds me while my grief breaks through like waters dammed for years. I'm sitting at the table where I was standing as a small girl on her birthday, surrounded by so much love. I can feel them all standing behind me now, as I release a grief I did not realize could feel so fresh again. 

I look up and see the chandelier that has become living art created by my grandmother and my mother and my daughter, and I wonder where I am in that art. Of course, I am the observer, the weaver of words and stories who becomes a living museum to hold and exhibit its beauty. And I come to understand something I never have before. I don't have the words for it yet but it is here, deep in my body, my cells, my DNA. 

And in the ancestors that stand behind me, dreaming me still. 

The Summer of Self-Love is a daily writing practice created to harness three months for thriving. The goal at the end is to host a dinner party. Sounds like an odd Hero's Journey, doesn't it? Most of them usually are.

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