A Seed Order of Saint Flowers
Today I checked the 10 day weather forecast, as I did yesterday, as I will do tomorrow. I’m looking for rain. Spring rain, the rain that soaks the ground, the rain that all my trees and bushes and flowers are thirsty for. The rain that will get me excited about gardening again.
It’s past time to make up my yearly seed order. The catalogs are all here, have been here for weeks. It’s a late winter ritual. I look through my favorites and circle possibilities. I add up the amounts, figure the shipping cost, recalculate to get the best for my money. I find a few unknowns or untried that can give me a rush—picturing them outside, me stooping down to admire them, picking just a few to set on the table, mixed in with white daisies and pink cosmos and yellow coreopsis and blue bachelor buttons—for in my usual late winter high gardening spirits I see all these in my garden, a lush paradise of color surrounding my house.
It’s a wonderful ritual and I’ve let it pass by. It’s never easy to garden on the prairie—not for the faint of heart, I like to say. Which makes it all the more wonderful when the things I’m growing are doing well. Last summer they did not do well. It was hot. Not just hot, really hot. Day after day after day. And it was dry. Hot and dry. Of all the packets of flower seeds I planted, only the zinnias came up. Not many and not great looking, but they came up. It’s almost as though they had a mission to make sure I didn’t give up, that I would keep up that hope of the prairie people before me. They’ve always been like that, even when my care was not the greatest.
Zinnias are like some special kind of saint
smiling in the face of my transgressions.
They forgive me when I don’t water them
though the Kansas sun beats down like hell.
They accept it when I uproot them
to some godforsaken spot I need to brighten.
They keep face when I cut them down in full bloom
and let them slowly wilt on my sunroom table
while the cat nibbles at them
and the vase water begins to smell.
They even seem to nod their approval
as the compost pile becomes their final resting ground.
I see some now
from the front porch swing.
They are cheering a spot
in a made-over bed
their yellow, orange and red petals
by dust from the road
and I have little to offer back
save the salvation they give me
on this late July afternoon.
July 14, 2007
I have opened one catalog to “Zinnia Mania”—Orange King, Cherry Queen, Purple Prince, Lilliput Mix. I likely won’t have a mania of anything floral out here in the wind and drought and heat. But I need to put that order in. Maybe this year I’ll get The Zinnia Collection—-“If you like them all but can’t decide on your favorite”. It’s true—I have no real favorite. They all are saints to me.