her teeny-tiny trumpets now have fallen to the ground, a carpet down below of brown-skinned souvenirs of what was.
her perfume, too, is lost. dissipated. lost to world beyond. the world of car exhaust and dryer fumes, lawn mower smoke and bacon burning on the griddle. the world of spring parading on.
lily-of-the-valley’s up next, the beauty queen whose reign is on the rise, demanding our attention as she sticks up and out her tender neck, heavy with those nodding bells that lure you to your knees so you can get a whiff.
she, my sweet viburnum, is just barely hanging on. my fragrant friend, on her final exhalations, and then she’s gone.
i thought it worth returning one more time. to pay heed to the notion that sometimes, oftentimes, we lose what left us dizzy. besotted. utterly and simply with head up in the clouds.
it–the thing that had us swooning, considering a cartwheel–is but an interlude. precious. sacred. it’s here and then it’s merely memory.
and it is the evanescence, the here-then-gone, that yanks our hearts, and stirs us, whispers in our ear: bless this moment, it is fleeting, always. like the tide, it washes in, trickles up the sand, and spills again, returning to the sea, the lake, the deep beyond.
but you knew that already. and so did i.
somehow, though, pausing, bowing as she passes, seems the thing to do. she is beauty fading, waning, drifting to the earth below in perfume-petaled snowflakes.
left behind, up where once she preened, she is little more than one last trumpet and a clutch of stubby little necks, each with head cut off, not unlike a clump of grapes denuded of its succulence. naked, as my mother calls the plucked-off concord stems, can’t abide them, cleans the mess with scissors, reprimands those who dare to leave behind a skeleton of what had been the clump of grapes.
so it is with viburnum on the distal end.
it is time then to genuflect, to drop our heads and thank the hardy bush, the one that asks for no attention, makes no demands all year. except for that single week or two when she is joy ascending, bursting, beckoning all who wander by within an acre of her puff-puff-puffing tailpipes, spewing ’round-the-clock, top-secret nose-bewitching formula.
she reminds, as she fades from foreground to unnoticed backdrop, that we all, all of us, have our shining moments, and then for 50 other weeks of every year we simply breathe and reach for sunshine, and swallow rain, because without it we’d be parched.
and she signals, too, this passing thought: even when we appear as ordinary as a bush with plain old leaves, we have, somewhere deep inside, what it takes to be a momentary, holy, neck-craning, oh-my-goodness-did-you-see-that-smell-that-sense-that source of radiance.
most of the time, day in and day out, we are not so much something to write home about. we are ordinary. waking. chewing. making beds. chasing after dreams. hauling out the trash.
but in any given moment–depending on what’s asked of us, how deeply we dig down into the luminescence that dwells inside–we, like sweet viburnum early in the month of may, can become holy transcendence.
we can exude a sweetness, and all that’s truly wholly fine. step out from our ordinariness and remind the world: even a plain old bush, when given half a chance, can assume a stance of unabating beauty.
and when she fades, she is radiant still. it’s only that she cloaks it beneath her humble plumage.
come her turn again, she’ll show the world of what she’s made.
and that, it seems, is why she’s more than earned her post just beyond my kitchen window. she never fails to wow me, even in her faded, lasting wisdom.
once again, the gospel of the garden.
fading. coming and going. rise and fall. these are the universal themes of life, and surely of the seasons. ecclesiastes, i believe, spells it out. and year after year, the lesson is repeated and repeated. what lessons does the springtime bring to you? who are your teachers in the world abloom around you?
I was just today paging through my new White Flower Farm catalog and admiring a sweet autumn clematis. I was thinking that even though it will be just a regular vine most of the spring and summer come late summer and early fall it will be spectacular when covered with pure white fragrant flowers. Ordinary for most of the year – but extraordinary for a few weeks towards the end of the growing season. And then I read your gospel of the garden. Its a sign, I think, that I must go ahead and buy this lovely clematis so that I can treasure its autumn glory.
what a lovely and filling post. and so true.