O Lord, some estimate You designed millions of different kinds of flowers growing on our planet. Whoa, how did You think up such diversity? Though I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me — because OMG, You’ve custom-designed every single one of billions of people.
it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun.”
Decades ago, a science book convinced my brother Ned the sun was a star.
I scoffed. How could the big, round, yellow sun and white, diamond-chip stars be one and the same? Anybody with a brain could tell the difference.
Besides, had anybody ever suffered from star burn? Huh? Huh?
Eventually, my teachers forced me to admit Ned was right. However, this April, I find myself playing cynic again. Despite Indiana’s strong evidence to the contrary, scientists insist the sun is still there.
Whether you believe the scientific or my sensible view, one important expectation remains: with May’s imminent arrival, here comes the sun! Let sun rituals begin!
North American ceremonials are less all-encompassing than ancient Aztecs’. They believed they perpetuated the sun by sacrificing human hearts. But we do follow the sun’s dictates year after year — despite protests from dermatologists, who prefer we live in subterranean caves.
Nope. No ritual is more sacred than sunbathing. Women will pay big bucks for the smallest amount of fabric they’ll wear all year, then don cover-ups and hats. When quarantine’s over, we hope to set up beach umbrellas and tents. We’ll slather ourselves and our kids with gallons of sunblock. A fog of its fragrance, similar to fall’s smoke from burning leaves, will fill the land. All to protect ourselves, at any cost, from the sun, for which we have yearned the past six months.
However, that’s not the only odd chemistry set in motion by the sun’s advent.
Grill addicts will barbecue every meal outside, including romaine (which is wrong on so many levels). Picnics will dot the land. Despite sun worship, everyone calls dibs on shady spots.
All part of the love-hate rituals we keep religiously with the sun’s advent.
We also up our junk food consumption to proper warm-weather levels. Dieticians, citing the availability of fresh produce, delude themselves that we will eat healthy.
Seriously? In six decades, I have yet to encounter a single concession stand that sells carrot sticks. Unless they’re deep-fried. And dipped in chocolate.
Unfortunately, when the sun gleams through dirty windows, we sense a moral obligation to wash them. Our cars, too, as the slush excuse won’t work anymore.
We also fertilize grass we don’t like to mow and bushes we hate to trim as well as plant flowers we hate to weed.
Amazingly, we don’t avoid these rituals. On a lovely spring day, we may even embrace them, because here comes the sun, ready or not!
I think we’re ready.
Even if we get star burn.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite sunny pastime?
OMG, please make me like my daffodil — determined to bloom and brighten, no matter what crazy winds blow!
O Lord, Your flowers are a mystery. I pamper them — they die. I’ve never, ever planted white petunias — yet they pop up and bloom. In October. On my porch, without a pot! OMG, teach me to welcome beauty into my life, even when it wasn’t invited.
O my God, You made crocuses so brave and bright — though some say they’re not too bright, thumbing little purple and yellow noses at frozen spring. But OMG, while You’re also into smarts, Your crocuses demonstrate that faith can’t be overrated!
Surely, no one deliberately planted flowers of such pathetic pedigree. These gangly commoners share none of the refinement of day lilies, their aristocratic cousins.
Whoever nurtured mine did not stop with signs. She/he invited them to surround the patio, where an army of orange sentinels stand at attention. Neither horizontal rain, windstorm, nor hail beat them down. Nothing short of a nuclear blast prevents their annual return.
I know this because their anonymous planter also nurtured them around our mailbox — until my husband, replacing it, obliterated the lily bulbs.
Undaunted, the invaders returned, only to be mowed down again and again. And again.
Stubborn? Worse than a gang of telemarketers.
Um … maybe the gardener who introduced the lilies wasn’t so dumb. Perhaps, like me, she/he was desperate. I had nicknamed that flower bed the “Sahara.”
Morning glories, petunias, zinnias, marigolds — none of my usual stalwarts had survived it. Would I have to comb the Internet for Martian cacti?
Instead, I planted lily shoots. Three days later, they had not shriveled.
Gasp! What had I done?
Yet, I could not yank them. I just … kind of forgot to water them.
Finally, the hopeful sprigs disintegrated into yellow July dust. I could forget my embarrassing temporary insanity.
Until the following March. Tiny, green leaves stuck out, na-na-na-boo-boo tongues that grew into spindly plants.
How could I pull them? They have flourished unpampered.
Though I wouldn’t mind if they conquered the crabgrass.
Vases chock full of lilies do brighten my mantels. My dining room table. My piano. …
All right, so my deep, dark secret is out.
I have plebian tastes. I like orange lilies.
These flowers scorn Better Homes and Gardens ratings. They grow in vacant lots, parking lots, behind Big Lots. Their determination to cover their world with beauty knows no limits.
Funny, her people bouquets consist of the unsung, too. She gathers needy children, cherishing beauty bypassed by others. Maybe the wealth of orange lilies edging her fence inspire her days.
As mine should.
Anyone blessed with orange-lilyfied street signs — even a dead-end one — is bound to see her world in a beautiful way.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What “plebian” flowers do you like?
“What’s that smell?” I asked my mother.
“Lilacs.” She took several long, luxurious sniffs, too.
Mom and I disagreed about short skirts, curfews and whether Herman of Herman’s Hermits needed a haircut. Lilacs made us one in heart, spirit and nose.
I didn’t know the Greek mythology behind lilacs — that a beautiful nymph named Syringa (now the botanical name for lilacs) was pursued aggressively by Pan, god of field and forest. Frightened, she hid by turning herself into a lilac bush.
Who was she kidding? No one remains in cognito smelling like that.
Case in point: few spies practice this form of espionage.
Sadly, no lilacs graced my subsequent homes. I indulged in sniffing them at church, where an enormous grove dominated the side yard. Every year when the allergic choir director threatened to dynamite my beloved bushes, I trembled.
Eventually, I married and moved to apartments and houses with no lilacs. Fortunately, many neighbors owned bushes covered with bouquets of blossoms. While walking with my toddlers, I cautioned that we couldn’t pick the lilacs. However, if we were very, very careful, we could borrow the smell. If you had followed us on our regular alley rounds, you would have seen little girls — and their mommy — standing on tiptoe, hands clasped behind backs, sniffing lilacs.
Once, I discovered a new neighbor had axed my favorites. They lay beside the road crushed, like green and purple roadkill.
“You may be chief lilac sniffer, but your name is not on the deed,” Hubby reminded me.
So instead of vandalizing their house, I moved into a home with a big lilac bush. Every spring, I filled my dining room with luscious fragrance.
Supposedly, no one can kill lilacs, yet I did the impossible. Inconsolable, I figured if we could conduct a dozen hamster funerals in the flower bed, we could hold a lilac funeral. But no one agreed.
My husband planted another lilac. But the following year we moved, and I had to say goodbye.
We now live in a house with a rather reserved bush that poises its large lavender parasol of blossoms far above sniff level. Still, it perfumes the garden and even graciously offers a few clusters for my olfactory pleasure.
One sniff on a busy morning makes all the difference in my day. Amazing what a little lilac love can do.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite sniffing flower?