So when we married, many years ago, we had very little money, so little money that after paying for a small bakery cake and assembling the ingredients for a wine punch, we had to save what money was left for a brief wedding trip, and could not buy fresh flowers for the cake table. So the mother of my husband’s best friend picked all the flowers in her flower beds, which were Shasta daisies, and that was what the wife of the best friend used to decorate. Ever since then, I have been particularly fond of daisies. Daisies are so cheerful, so sturdy, so encouraging and generous with themselves. We have always tried to have some daisy plants wherever we have lived; some years they have bloomed profusely, other times not, but this year they are exuberant.
And then there are dahlias. Dahlias were plants I only heard of once in a funny, silly TV series where one of the characters grew them, but no one I knew grew them, and I never really saw a dahlia in person until the orange dahlia I planted as an experiment bloomed. I had had a weak and/or wild moment while reading a bulb catalog and spotted this particular dahlia’s photo, and it looked much like a zinnia, and I love zinnias, so I ordered the dahlia. Since then I have also tried dwarf dahlias and, this year, a miniature heirloom dahlia.
Yesterday I was strolling around the garden with some brand new small pruners I recently acquired, deadheading here, pulling a weed there, and there were the daisies and dahlias all abloom. So I cut some and brought them in for the dining table, just a few in a small budvase. Looking at them in the vase, it occurred to me that they more or less represented both the real beginning of my life as an adult and the life I’m grateful to have had since the beginning of our marriage. The daisies represent the innocence and ignorance of my youth; the dahlias could represent a lot about the years since then, the expectations and errors, and ultimately the willingness to accept life as it is and see what beauty I can find. And there is always so much beauty we can find, if we look.