Saturday, December 8, 2012

Flowers in Winter

     In winter, if you want reminders from your garden that life is superlative,  plant cassia trees and camellia bushes.
     Long after the redbuds, golden rain, mimosa, bottle brush and marigolds have relinquished their blooms, and the azaleas (confused by balmy temperatures into their third flowering), and Knock Out roses and Indian blanket are losing their June radiance, cassia and camellia are coming into a full flowering.
     This morning I stood in front of my two cassia trees, whose buttery blooms concentrate all the summer sun's hoarded yellow rays into a display that might as well be an arboreal manifestation of the Second Coming.
     "How do you do it?" I asked them, under a Philadelphia-gray sky.
     They smiled, editing my end-of-week brokenspiritedness (a product of physical exhaustion) into an experience of very little merit, alongside such uninhibited joy.
     "We know something you don't know," they answered.
     When it comes to cassia, the whole tree is laughing, or else there's silence.  Today and for the next few weeks, the trees will be laughing constantly--and, like someone in the presence of two kids who find their circumstances irresistibly funny, and cannot restrain themselves, not even at a funeral--I will be infected whenever I look at them, holding my breath to hush my vocal cords, in spite of which airy bits of optimism will rise up like bubbles.
     I should be embarrassed, but I'm not, and neither are those kids at the graveside service, whose socially unacceptable behavior is a correction for too much grief in the world.  There is grief all around these days, and it requires the helium lift of cassia to keep from falling like Persephone into the underworld.  Cassia, thank you for reminding me that I am alive, even though it's winter.
     Then there's its soulmate, those lusty camellias, whose thornless stems invite you to get nose to nose.  How do these blooms hold onto so much pink?  They're like tubes of paint leaking onto a dusky surface, splattering my yard with manic blotches, telling me something I've forgotten.
     "What did you say?"
     It's not so bad.
     "Really?" I ask.
     Stop talking, and look.
     When you need a subject for meditation, and don't want it to be morbid, find some camellias and sit with them.  They are better than Prozac, and more honest.
     There is more to be learned from cassias and camellias in winter than in all the philosophy books written by mere humans.  If you can't hear it, you must not be paying attention.


1 comment:

  1. I know exactly whay you are saying!