If thou of fortune be bereft,
And in thy store there be but left
Two loaves — sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
James Terry White (1845-1920)
Some 80 or so years ago, one of the women in my family impulsively squandered a dime on a packet of flower seeds. The flowers sprouted, grew, produced exuberant blossoms, then set seeds that exploded and flew everywhere. Next spring, they came up not only in her flower garden, but along the edge of the garden that wasn't cultivated. In four or five years, they were sprouting in the yard.
Today, they have claimed a whole meadow. I think they may be in the dianthus family, but we have always called them "pinks" even though they range from white to deep crimson and freely hybridize so that the petals may be rounded or deeply spidered. This time of year, the whole meadow has a pink glow to it and I send a silent "thank you" to the woman who squeezed a dime out of a tight budget to feed not only her soul, but mine.
I have written before of the pleasures of living with the flowering trees and bushes the women before me had planted in this arid sandy soil — a great-aunt's miniature roses, my grandmother's gardenias.
I may wish I had the lilacs of a cooler zone, but I would not trade the gardenias for them.
When we built our house here, in the bare field immediately behind the burned-out homeplace, we dug dogwoods, oaks and maples from the woods, rooted more of the gardenias, planted figs and blueberries and pears. Whoever lives on this land after we are gone will have the pinks and the gardenias. They will eat the fruits we have left and rest in the deep shade of trees that now meet overhead.
And they will fill vases with blue and purple hydrangeas and enjoy the day lilies and turk's cap lilies. And I selfishly hope that these will feed their souls, too.