Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Plumeria and Other Growing Things

For anyone who has lived in a tropical climate all their lives, this may not make any sense at all. How can we know the frigid, brown earth of winter if we haven't experienced it for ourselves? It looks pretty in photographs, the world a still, calm place with snow-capped peaks. Having been raised in a mild climate and then living in a more seasonal locale for many years taught me to appreciate the beauty of growing things--flora and fauna that never die due to frost or snow. I would come back to visit family in January to be reminded that somewhere on this planet, flowers were still in bloom. Now that I'm back in the Bay Area, my senses are constantly aware of the beauty that surrounds us. That's why plumeria made my day.

Last week, on a particularly gray morning, Anne from the Garden club was volunteering at my work. The flower aficionado that she is, she brought a little plumeria blossom for each of us in our office to pin to our shirts. She could have kept the sweet smelling buds to herself, or she could have shared them only with her closest friends, but she brought enough to share with all of us. She was fluttering around delivering her little gifts to anyone who would accept, and we all did. I walked around that day feeling quite special that a flower had been delivered to me.

It doesn't take a dozen long stems to brighten someone's day--just a bud will do. Those are the best, most cherished presents that I can remember. My children used to bring these little tokens when they were young; as they walked home from school they would randomly pluck a flower from a nice lady's well-tended garden and give it to me. I tried to hold back the laughter when it was a dandelion, and the horror when it was a prized rose from the not-so-understanding neighbor. But they always went into a little cup or vase in the kitchen window to remind me it was spring and everything was new again. Even though I miss those seasonal gestures, it's refreshing to have a flower or two from an acquaintance or friend to remind me of what's important and beautiful in the world.

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