Back in April, I bought a set of hanging impatiens. It had been a long week and a longer winter, and it finally felt like spring outside the house that was so newly and impossibly ours. Flowers, then.
We went to one store and then another, where I paced the aisles heroically—weaving among the petunias and begonias and so many (I mean so many; this was a Sunday mornings at Stew’s) people. I peered from afar and then from very near, considering each plant for its size and fullness; for its hues and balance thereof. My husband held up one after another (thank you; I love you), and at last I settled on two baskets of impatiens. Before, of course, turning back at the pavilion to replace one with another that was catching the light so well, and was surely, just slightly, more perfect. I was thrilled.
At home, I took a photograph, which I later posted on Instagram along with a few lines of Mary Oliver. Because if anyone gets at the essence of spring quite like Mary Oliver, I’d like to know it. (See.)
And now it’s July, and my plants are utterly, undeniably dead.
There’s very little that’s poetic about a dead plant—barring the alliterative, I guess, in that it is both withered and wilted. I watered mine faithfully (but perhaps, unevenly), lifted them from the sun’s glare on occasion (but perhaps, on too few occasions); and life happened, and time passed.
So here I am with these carefully chosen, poetically paired, dearly departed flowers. And that’s okay; that’s probably more than okay, for me. I’m so new to this whole gardening thing; to this whole, having a garden, and a house, and a husband, thing. And when things are new, I have a tendency to lose my way a little bit; to turn inwards a little too far, and look for moorings in perfection—in whatever, in a basket of flowers. But a flower is an object lesson on being—and on the beauty of its transience. None is everlasting (though I suppose some are, technically, called perennial), and none is unblemished while it lasts. Kind of freeing.
I think a garden is going to be a very good thing. I’ll labor and I’ll love, but the next time I shop for plantings, I won’t be wringing my hands over these ones or those. I’ll pick some that look just fine, and then I’ll hurry with my husband to the check-out, because we’ve also got bagels to buy and a life to live.