Saturday, May 14, 2016
THE FLOWER PROBLEM
Picture a balcony bearing ten pots of flowers. Find impatiens, geranium, Martha Washington, evening scented stocks, pansies, heliotrope, roses, begonia, petunias, alyssum, ornamental grass and a few adornments that didn’t come with names. Picture all of this in mid May in a province known for occasional snow in June, and there you see it—evidence of a FLOWER PROBLEM. Warning: don’t bother organizing an intervention to get my attention. Don’t assemble a delegation of caring family supported by flower problem treatment professionals! I know about the problem. I know that only I can beat it. Some day I’ll beat it. I swear I will! It was daughter Ruth who first named the illness. She had failed to notice the introduction of the lily patch and a few hanging pots to the already flowered house on 67th Street. She had celebrated the planters and peonies at the house on 89th Street. But when the number of front yard pots exceeded twenty, she felt she had to say something. “You, Mother,” she announced, “have a flower problem.” How could I deny it? Time I used to spend with the kids on the soccer field was now spent trimming the coleus. Television watching time was pre-empted smelling the roses. But how could I quit, or even cut back? What would our friends say? How could I explain it to any of the neighbours who passed our house on walks just to see the profusion Then, out of the blue, an opportunity presented itself. We were moving to an apartment. It would be difficult to have a flower problem on an apartment balcony. Where would I store the potting soil? How would I deal with the mess of water and fallen leaves? Who would haul away the debris? We moved in late August. “No flowers,” I said to my surprised family. “The flowers stay with the house.” Just to show how serious I was, I only took a few empty pots, and a few plant stands, and one pail of potting soil. And I only bought one chrysanthemum when the need arose to warm the autumn chill. Perhaps if I had been a little more vigilant at the first signs of spring, things might have turned out differently. But it seemed right to thank Mark for bringing the first pansy pot in early April, an affirmation that winter was truly gone. And would it not have been impolite not to rejoice when Grace brought my favourite yellow pansies and removed the remains of last year’s chrysanthemum? And how could I have rejected the rose bush in full bloom that Mark presented as a gift for early Mother’s Day, or the free pot of geranium and petunias that came free from Superstore with a grocery order over $250.00? Would it have been right not to support our church by purchasing $100.00 worth of summer joy from the annual plant sale? After all, the house did not sell as we had planned. And there sat the remaining plants stands, lonely on the veranda. Had they, after so many years of faithful service, not earned a position of honour outside our new livingroom window? “I like to look out the window at all those flowers,” said David. Next door to us stands a high rise with suites that look directly on to our balcony. “These people probably think I have a flower problem,” I said to David, as I stowed the last of the potting soil. “Don’t worry,” said he. “The neighbours have always loved our flowers.. If I were to be truly honest and not simply hopeful, I suppose I would have to admit that I may never be cured. The root of the flower problem, it is now obvious, lies in the act of enablement. Yes, there is an enabler living under my very own roof? How can you expect to cure yourself of a problem like that with an enabler in the family?