The Last Flowers of Summer

BLOG #36, SERIES #3
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
THE LAST FLOWERS OF SUMMER
September 5, 2012

When you live high in the Rockies as we do – at 9,700 feet –, summer is all too short. Plants are likely to freeze as late as June and as early as mid to late August.

Then there are the critters that consider anything planted outside the house to be their salad bar – principally elk, deer, squirrels, and chipmunks.

Since we’ve had bull elk wander onto our lower deck, that leaves but one place for flowers: the upper deck.

But even there, we’re not home free, for hailstorms can come at no notice. In fact, early this summer when we were out shopping, a hailstorm shredded our just-purchased flowering plants. Fierce winds are hard on them too. As are wandering raccoons and bears.

By now I can hear you muttering, So why are they crazy enough to invest in flowers at all? Are they not very smart?

Quite simply, we do it because we love flowers. I come from a long line of ancestors, on both sides of my family tree, who reveled in flowers, and plants in general. My late father was never happier than when working in his garden; my paternal grandmother, who was deaf, practically lived in her garden – it was a world she could retreat into; and my maternal grandfather was a florist who sold stock from his home.

So it is that when we’re home, if we hear thunder, we race for the plants and haul them in under the eaves before it’s too late. In the Rockies, storms often surprise us with their speed –many times we get soaked when we dilly-dally. And lightning strikes give little or no warning.

Thus it is that though our season is short, we splurge on buying flowering plants anyway, and each of those precious days in those allotted ten to twelve weeks, we treasure like misers fondling gold. Perhaps it is because we have so short a time that we value them so much.

And of course we have our favorites: geraniums and petunias always bloom their hearts out for us, and their beauty is so intensely vibrant that the very thought of the imminence of the arrival of that assassin, frost, sends chills up our spines!

But not yet. At least tomorrow the flowers will greet us when we go out to feed the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks.

As to why God gave us flowers in the first place, let’s listen to Emerson:

“THE RHODORA”

In May, when sea-winds pierce our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool,
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! If the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you

* * * * *

Ah Yes! Beauty is its own excuse for being.