Early Summer 2014 -- Embracing our Dormant Times
When I moved into my new home last October, I had my work cut out for me ripping up all the dead plants that greeted me. I only had a few bedraggled plants left when a neighbor came over to comment on all my hard work. Turns out these not-so-perfect plants weren't dead after all. Turns out these sad-looking perennials were the most beautiful peonies he’s ever seen (and he's been enjoying them for years). So large and bountiful are their blooms that the former owners installed heavy duty peony rings to hold them up (the rings I had just worked so hard to remove). Wait. Did he say “peonies”? Had I really just single-handedly wiped out my most favorite flower in the whole wide world? How had I not recognized them? How could I have been so hasty in my quest for tidy curb appeal?
Having just arrived from Southern California, where my plants pretty much flowered year-round, this in-your-face dormancy was new to me. In my mind withered plants were dead plants. End of story.
I now felt like a botanical serial killer. Then my mind began to swirl with the metaphorical significance of what had just taken place. I asked myself how many other things I had judged (and sometimes ripped up!) prematurely. My thoughts went from dormant peonies to surly teenagers and soured relationships. If only people carried "work in progress" or "construction zone" signs! What you see isn't always what's below the surface or what will be down the road, given enough sweet time and some prolonged sunshine. The in-between times of anything are rarely the prettiest, right? Think dress rehearsals, rough drafts, and uncooked casseroles. Between the seeds of promise and blossoms of beauty, a lot can go down — everything from blight to people like me destroying what she doesn't recognize.
This summer there will be a few less peonies in my neighborhood, but when the survivors appear in all their glory, I'll be reminded of the value of those in-between times. We humans can experience dormancy any time of the year, and it’s rarely pretty. My hope is that the next time I encounter it, either in a loved one or within myself, I’ll be gentle, patient, and wise, remembering that sometimes even the sorriest looking plants can be the most beautiful flowers in their own time.
Wishing you all a beautiful summer, inside and out.