My older daughter and grandson sent me a lovely bouquet for Mother’s Day. (See photo below.) The flowers came as buds and have begun to open. The fragrance from these lillies is so strong that within three feet of the vase, I begin to be seduced by their “perfume.” It reminded of the saying about taking time to smell the roses, because too often we are so busy in our lives that we don’t stop to savor the moments of special significance or even everyday significance.
In the book I reviewed last week (see Book Reviews), The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, there is a long epilogue that tackles the topic: “From Walden to Wal-Mart: Consumers and Their Critics.” The article notes that the thread that runs through Thoreau’s critique is, “that we not only don’t need all the stuff we have but it actually gets in the way of living the good life….” (p. 180.) To me, flowers are integral to the “good life.”
Maybe taking time to smell the roses can also mean literally focusing on flowers for the beauty and fragrance they emit as you plant them, cut them for your vase, or just go to gardens and take pictures, as I do on vacations or when I walk around the neighborhood. By focusing on the beauty of the flowers, I am taking a step back from the hectic schedule I sometimes create, and I surrender to the fact that flowers are here for us to enjoy, with no hidden agenda. Or as this quote states, “Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844.
Once the azaleas fade, the rhodendruns take their turn at dazzling us!
One way to step away from some of the minutia of everyday life is actually taking the time to smell the flowers by keeping them close at hand. When I lived in Israel for one year, every Friday before Shabbat, members of the kibbutz would pick flowers from their gardens and bring them to the dinner table. It was called “Prachot beshvil Shabbat,” or Flowers for the Sabbath. It was a small gesture packed with so much meaning for the Israelis that I often buy flowers “just because.” Flowers in my apartment, along with the plants along our long, low windowsills in the living room and dining room make me feel that even though we live in an urban setting, we are surrounded by natural beauty. They feed my soul and are a feast for my eyes and nose.
While you cannot smell the flowers here, hopefully you will enjoy them visually and run right out and pick or buy your own bouquet to smell! Even though buying flowers might seem like a “frill” in these difficult economic times, the lift they give, starting at less than $10.00 a bunch, seems like a positive mental health act that helps counteract some of the “gloom and doom” we read about or see in the media.
Finally, while taking time to smell the roses, take some time to remember those who have fallen in all the wars that “civilized people” can’t seem to avoid. While you may not support the war, you can remember the troops who have fought and fallen in previous wars and are now fighting in Iraq. The photos below are from the cemetery up the street from our condo, and my husband says that the dozens of flags next to the flowers each represent a soldier who has died in Iraq, and sadly, the number of flags grows larger each year.
This final photo is also from the local cemetery and is my commemoration to Memorial Day. While many of us, including myself, use this day to have a picnic, visit friends, or even shop, let’s not forget what Memorial Day really means—a tribute to soldiers from all the wars.