Thursday, June 16, 2016

Peonies ..... and Life




Sometimes I think it would be good to lock myself away in a windowless cell for a few decades like the Buddhist nun I recently read about. I wouldn't have to hear of the appalling things human beings are capable of doing to each other, and regularly do. I wouldn't have to see pictures in the newspaper of handsome young men, fathers of children, and mothers too, who can gun down innocent people who have done them no harm and feel that they are the heroes. I wouldn't have to twist my brain into knots trying to understand how a person could evolve from an innocent baby to a gun- or explosives-toting killer. I saw a poster once of a down-at-heel homeless man wandering the streets of Paris. The caption said "We All Come From Lovers." The puzzlement is in how the love gets lost and the baby grows up to be a psychopath.


I got peonies for my birthday last month. I know that must seem like a non sequitur but I hope to show you that it is not. At first this post was going to be just about the peonies.....and then things happened and......it wasn't.

 They looked like dirty little golf balls on stems when they arrived. But, the card assured me, follow the instructions and they will blossom into beauties. I followed the instructions and was rewarded with this -

It was like an extravagant explosion of pink. My eyes drank them in. My nose o.d'd on the heavenly scent. I placed them where I could see them no matter where I was --- cooking, or cleaning, reading, or watching television.

They were beautiful. 

Each morning I changed the water, clipping the bottoms of the stems to keep them fresh. They lasted for several days but each day was like a different decade in a human life ---

--- the newborn stage when they were first delivered, looking like old golf balls;

--- the unfolding into the unblemished beauty of childhood;

--- the full flowering of youth;

--- on into middle age, still beautiful but drying out a little;



And then the inevitable dropping off of petals.
         

Finally, all that remained was a bowl of crispy remnants that are nevertheless still beautiful and retain much of the beauty of their first day of flowering.


And how does this relate to my opening paragraph? It made me reflect on life. I'm older now than my own parents lived to be. It is sometimes tempting to groan at the prospect of another birthday, to grimace at the bathroom mirror when faced with the incontestible proof of time's passage, to bemoan the dryness, the sagginess, the bagginess, the long-in-the-toothedness, the wrinkles.

The peonies reminded me of what I knew all along  --- that each phase of life has its own beauty. No moaning or ollagoaning* this year. I'm too busy embracing each minute, with all its creaking joints, and multiple blessings. I'm too busy being grateful for my life and its few remaining petals.  I'm sure the victims of  recent events on the world stage would gladly accept a few sags and bags, creaks and aches, if they could only have lived to evolve into them from their snatched-away youth.

As our teacher says at the end of yoga class --

"May you be well,
May you be happy and peaceful
May you be free from all danger,
May you be filled with loving kindness."

(And treasure all your petals no matter what stage they're at)

Namaste.


Notes:

 # 1. Thank you Tigey!

 # 2  Mr. Google failed me in that I could not find an official spelling (or even acknowledgement of it as a real word) for "ollagoaning" which was in common use in Ireland when I was growing up as a synonym for "wailing."  This is my own, unassisted by Google, effort at writing it phonetically...



15 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Beauty is truth,
Truth beauty.
Thank you.
And some day I am going to succeed in growing peonies. Someday.

Thimbleanna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thimbleanna said...

Oops, sorry for those typos last time!

A Beautiful, Beautiful Post Molly! And thank you for writing down the yoga sentiment -- our teacher says that at the end of all of our classes too - and for the life of me, I can never remember the whole thing when class is over -- even though I hear it every week

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Yes , life maybe has fewer Va-Voom! moments ... but , certainly at my age , that's maybe just as well !
A beautiful bunch of flowers is also cause for celebration ...

Marigold Jam said...

Lovely post and says what I am sure so many of us would like to say but your version is better! I often think of the quote "To live at all is miracle enough" when I see the wrinkles and feel the aches and pains and so on that age brings. I also love that old people are expected to be a bit eccentric so now I fit right in!!

Susan Kane said...

Oh, how my mother loved her "piney" flowers. They bloomed by Memorial Day, and she took quart jars to graves of ones she loved. I read somewhere that it took decades for a peony plant to be as large as ours.

I looked up the Irish word for wail: olago'n. No idea how it pronounced. **We lived in Cork for a few years, when our children were in school. Erin was exempt as she was 10 yrs old, but Johnny and Mary took Irish. Johnny became quite fluent. Mary was a butterfly.

Ali Honey said...

It's not cold enough here to grow those beauties successfully.
I am sure all sane caring folk wonder those same thoughts. What goes wrong? What motivates such hatred?
Your State has been in the News too much. Stay safe Dear Friend.

Secret Agent Woman said...

So, so true. Every single stage of life has its beauty.

And oh my God, do I adore peonies.

StitchinByTheLake said...

Beautifully said Molly. My heart breaks for the mothers and fathers everywhere. I too want to retreat - back into the mountains to a secluded place deep in the woods where none of that backbreaking news can reach me. Since I can't do that I do what I know. I gather vegetables and can them, I stitch something with color and pass it on to a friend to see them smile. My peonies didn't do well this year so I love seeing yours. blessings, marlene

Pam said...

Well, yes, all very true. What can one do but appreciate being alive? And do a it of quilting. Sigh.

Marigold Jam said...

Lovely to see your comment on my blog - yes it is a bit "fare thee well" I fear but who knbows I may be back if/when I have anything to say and certainly if I go on the bus again anytime soon!

Vagabonde said...

Your bouquet of peonies is lovely. I do not see peonies around here, maybe it is too warm. After appraising the way life is going, I am pleased that I am a senior and to have traveled very much. Now it is becoming a scary proposition in some countries. Your post is very philosophical and nice.

Molly Bon said...


EC --- Truth is harsh sometimes though! I found my first white hairs when I was still in H.S. I'd seen my mother (whom I have to thank for that!) messing and dollacawling with dyes and rinses every week of my growing up years. I decided if my hair turned white I'd deal with it! Too many other ways to use the time that would have been involved in basically messing with the truth. I didn't apply that thinking to hair cuts though! When I get a nice haircut I'm not trying to fool anyone into thinking it just grew that way! I wish you peony growing success --- they're so beautiful...

Anna-Banana --- Yup. Love those few lines. Sometimes even a yoga class doesn't quite quiet my mind so I love to get that reminder at the end. Wondering if you're a grandma yet?

S & S --- They don't have to come from the florist's... I'm regularly stopped in my tracks, walking around in the back garden, by teeny tiny wild flowers hiding in the grass or poking up through the pine needles. They're the humblest little things but sometimes so beautiful they take my breath away.


Molly Bon said...


Marigold --- I think we care less at our age 'what people think" and more about what we ourselves think! Eccentric is good...I've been "fitting in" for years....

Susan --- Can you "do" a Cork accent? Up and down like a song!

Ali --- Nobody's safe any more but there's no use worrying about it or becoming a hermit....

SAG -- and knowing you (at least from your blog, I'd say you probably have some in your garden!

Molly Bon said...


Marlene --- You're so right. Very few of us have the power or position to change the big things, but we can do small everyday things that can make a huge difference to the people in our own little orbit.

Pam --- Ah yes, quilting. Sounds so much like "guilting" which is how I'm feeling about a project that should have been stitched and mailed a long time ago. But --- I'm finally getting it done.

Vagabonde --- But if we don't travel out of fear they win. We know a couple who went to Paris last year and loved it so much they're determined to go back again this year in spite of the terrorists.