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Charting the Unchartable

Charting the Unchartable

Well, this is not the easiest time I have had writing my thoughts, let me tell you. In March, my husband David and I not only had to lay off our staff and close our store to customers and take orders only online and telephone, but we were silly enough to start a diet! What were we thinking? (Don’t ask how I am doing with that; it’s not pretty.) On top of all this mess, I fell down a flight of stairs and messed myself up a bit (not my beautiful face though!) and I am convinced I fell because I was so hungry and not because of the ice. Anyway, no more pity party and woe is me; we’re already getting a fill of that from everyone we speak to. Boy, oh boy, we as humans sure like to complain and moan don’t we?

Enough of that. I have now put on my happy glasses and will fill the rest of the page with lighthearted fun and happiness! My mum, who is 97, has lived through The Great Depression of the 1930s, WW2, leaving her family and moving across the ocean, the death of both her parents and her husband, the Cuban Missile Crisis, countless world atrocities, and even the horrible fashion choices of the 1980s, so when this COVID-19 horror story started to unfold, I asked her, “How can we cope?” She calmly said, “Neville, we must always look for joy and happiness, even in the midst of the worst, and see the beauty that is often hidden right in front of us.” Well, my darlings, isn’t that the truth? It is so easy to find the bad in the world because it is thrust in our faces with every scroll or click, and we can easily wallow in it rather than find simple beauty and let the other lose its power.

When I was a child (and I still do when I go home), I would go for a walk with Mum in the garden daily, even in the winter, to see what’s happening, what did happen and what’s to come. We would count the buds on the lilac tree that would be full of flowers in a few months, chart out where the tulips were planted and admire the beautiful patterns made from the moss on the ash tree in the yard. I remember one late November, it had already snowed, and nothing was growing outside. Mum called me to see something remarkable next to the foundation of the house. There, tiny and rather beaten up, was a little jolly jumper (you know, like a small pansy). I said to my mum, who I thought had gone a bit doolally, “Darling, it has only three petals!” My dear mum was quick to remind me that those three petals were beautiful and that we must enjoy each one as they are all we have. She also said, “I don’t have all my petals either, and I am still OK!” I have never looked at a flower the same way since.

We live in a world of perfection, whether it’s the perfect rose for a wedding, the shiniest apple or a wrinkle-free complexion. In our industry, as with most other perishable commodities, if something isn’t just perfect, it is discarded. I thought of that as we got into the depth of the flower shortage here and how much I would love to have a few of those odd stems about now. As a bit of an oddball myself, I am drawn to the less fortunate stems and plants because they often have to work harder to be enjoyed. There is, however, a bit of a renaissance in our industry, and part of this is the acceptance of imperfection (the Japanese call it “wabi-sabi”) – embracing what used to be thought of as unusable, and this is so exciting! We are using bits of bark, rock, chewed up and dead leaves, and all sorts of things we would never dare touch before in our design work with great results, and for this I am very thankful and excited!

Spring in North America, regardless where you live, is magical. It’s a new start, a beginning of life and bursts of color! I hope that once we begin to get back to a bit of normalcy in our world, we will start to realize that we all are pretty good with the imperfections we have; crooked stems, off-colored petals, spots and all. I know our industry is shaken and bent outta shape, but like all the beautiful flowers and plants we work with every day, we will rise again!

Stay well, stay healthy, and continue to share LOVE through the beauty of flowers!

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