OLD’S NOT ALWAYS BAD

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For cut flowers bought in a shop, these carnations are very old.  Survivors, you might say.  I carried them home two weeks ago today, part of an ill-advised purchase of red wanna-be petunias that were really something else (what I still don’t know), plus these rimmed carnations, plus a large bunch of spiky greens, all of which I disliked intensely once I had managed to stuff every last stem into an oversized container fit for major floral condolence.  I had wanted yellow flowers, or orange ones, and not too many. I had wanted to put them in my own much smaller rectangular glass vase, wanted them to look at home.  Instead what I let myself be talked into was stiff, institutional, fancy. (SeeMeditation on Flowers,” two posts back.).

But after ten days, the petunia wanna-be’s began to shed their red petals all over the glass table top. The spiky green things wilted and yellowed.  The carnations hung on. Time isn’t always the enemy.  Now that I have only the carnations, they seem more orange. And now they do look the way I wanted them to, a little sloppy, a little droopy, just right next to Bill’s orange bowl.

They’re not going to last, I know that. If you look closely, you can see one carnation has given up, its stem bent sharply towards the ground.  Several of the others are beginning to wrinkle. But even if it’s just for now, that’s fine.  Isn’t now all any of us have, even the young who feel they’ll live forever?

For now, there’s also a bonus.  It’s on my other table, in a little vase I’ve had since I was twenty-seven.  That’s fifty-nine years ago.  Old can surprise you.  Hang on.

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WRITING SHORT: 10/50

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[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

The small deck behind our sliding glass kitchen doors is one story up from the downward sloping ground beneath it. When you stand on the deck you are therefore in the air, looking out in spring and summer at green tree foliage. There our two housecats safely try snaring the small birds and squirrels frequenting the twin feeders hanging off the top rail. (They have better luck with the occasional crawling insect.) Every year we also put out a few pots of colorful flowers that can withstand hot morning sun with daily watering. An occasional bird dips its beak in the saucers of run-off water.

This year, a helpful garden center saleswoman recommended a few other flowering plants undeterred by blistering mornings. In addition to our usual orange impatiens, we therefore also came home with reddish million bells, orange and yellow zinnias, and — to hang off the railing between the feeders – a large yellow lantana.

Soon two gorgeous new visitors arrived (plus several bumblebees). As one who lived almost all her long life in concrete cities, I had never seen a live butterfly up close. But there it was one morning, fluttering around the lantana for almost twenty minutes, black of wing with white and yellow markings, much larger than I would have imagined and not afraid of me when I came close. News of the lantana must have spread: the next day a second brilliantly yellow and black butterfly joined the first, sipping nectar from its multiplicity of yellow flowers.

Now when I hold the watering can over the lantana each morning, it’s for the two butterflies too. My butterflies. I’m so proud!

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