For many years my mother preserved the flowers that crossed her path or whose paths she crossed. It was not unusual for her to return from a neighborhood walk with a few dainty tokens in her hands, delicate little twigs and leaves and wildflowers she had picked from the shrubbery along the way; and trips to destinations exotic or not, almost always meant that some floral or leafy souvenirs of the voyage could be found somewhere inside a purse or pocket or guidebook. Her collection grew. She filled many small boxes with this pretty bounty.
Most of my mother’s books and myriad notebooks lodged little flowers and leaves as well … hosting them happily, I venture. Paper and prose and flowers make for a companionable camaraderie, I suppose. It was a common occurrence (nevertheless one that remained startling each time) to leaf open a book at random from the bookshelves at my parents, only to be greeted with the surprise of a shower of dried violets or maple leaves or buttercups or mysterious petals tumbling down. A thing I found alternately endearing or vexing depending on my mood.
My folks recently moved and in the process purged many of their things — big things but also the kind of things one collects over the years and keeps in forgotten drawers or dusty boxes or wooden chests in basements and attics and garages and staircase closets — useless but sentimental, worthless and priceless, forgotten until the moment of being in sight and yet an essential thread of the fabric of the memory of a family and a lifetime. Worthy of being clutched to the breast in a last-gasp-farewell embrace but deservedly destined for the bin. Precious, ridiculous, sentimental, cumbersome – all at once.
Most of those things had to go. Some of those things were hard to let go of for each of my parents. My mother, the collector of things, had the worst of it, letting go of an ocean of sea shells, a king’s ransom in quilting fabrics, and a dizzying amount of arts and crafts supplies and goodies among other things. She fought some of these partings and others she found cathartic. In any event, she mastered the game.
Taking purging too far, however, came when my mother voluntarily decided to toss out her entire collection of dried flowers. I was in shock!
Sometimes you have to intervene and stop people from making poor, irrevocable decisions. I intervened & kept them.
And this is the story of how I happen to have this treasure-trove of beautiful dried flowers that came in super-useful for a florid Valentine’s Day blog post.
Let’s finish off our Saint Valentine’s Day homage with a contemplation of love by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (popularly known simply as Rumi in the West) — a Sufi, a poet, a sage, who observed:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Have a warm and fuzzy Velentine’s Day, filled with love!
Khoda hafez till next time.
[* The title of this post “Go through this worlds giving love giving love” is a line from a translated poem of Hafiz – the great poet of Shiraz.]