Saturday, March 25, 2006

Do You Like Flowers?

My Collage: Flowers, based on Frida Kahlo's My Nurse and I. (I wanted to focus on the nurturing, regenerative, and spiritual power of flowers.)




This is the time of year when people starting thinking about flowers. And who doesn't like flowers?

Yet I wasn't born with an appreciation for flowers. Or maybe it's that I grew up in the South, where flowers are almost perpetual. My mother loved flowers and grew them in profusion. Maybe I was spoiled by too many.

Whatever the reason, I was neutral about flowers for a long, long time.

In art school, for instance, I couldn't understand why anybody would want to paint flowers. I was not interested in Van Gogh's sunflowers in the least. O'Keefe's flowers? I didn't understand what the fuss was about.

The first time I can remember caring about flowers was after the birth of our third son. I knew he would be my last, and I felt sad about that. Each time I had loved the feeling of being pregnant and loved the act of giving birth. Allen knew this. He brought me a dozen red roses while I was in the hospital. It was the first flower bouquet he'd ever given me. I took them home and nurtured them almost as much as I did the baby. Watching them die made me unbearably sad. For a long time, I thought I'd loved the flowers only because of the association between them and my husband and son. So therefore that incident in itself didn't translate into a lifelong love of flowers.

When I first started developing a love of mythology, I began to realize how important flowers are as symbols. In so many fairytales and myths, flowers are symbolic of the soul. I think I started to appreciate them more as I saw how important they have been to storytellers through the ages.

I can't say there was one day or one incident I can point to, but one day I realized I'd fallen in love with flowers. Maybe it's the long, dark, cold winters in Ohio. Seeing flowers coming up through the still-frozen ground in the spring means something now. And in the summer, when I watch the bees tumbling in the pollen, I get an unbearable lump in my throat: it is so beautiful to watch, so erotic. In those moments, I can't help but think of O'Keefe's flowers, and I also know what she must have seen in her flowers, the ones she painted. Now, when I look at Van Gogh's works, I understand his passion for the hearty sunflowers.

When did it happen? When did looking into the trembling throat of a flower begin to fill me with such unbearable joy and pain?

I say pain, but it is a beautiful pain.

4 comments:

Paula said...

This makes me awful damn glad I just sent you a box of flowers (and other stuff). I told you in an email I wanted it to be like opening a box of springtime.

I just saw my first spring flowers the other day and almost yelped from the car! When I lived down south I used to argue with folks that there was no change of seasons down there--they said there was, and I eventually came to be able to see it, sort of, but it is simply not anything like the changes you see up north, the physical ecstasy of seeing flowers emerge from the once-frozen ground Every spring is a resurrection...and ain't that grand?

Vicky said...

I love flowers. I have just bought some cut daffodils and put them in a vase. They are so bright and spring-like. Like you, Theresa, flowers didn't mean that much to me as I grew up. Which is a shame, for I really didn't appreciate the beauty of the all the delicate and sweet lily of the valley that emerged every spring around the base of the cherry tree in our back garden.

This is another lovely, fresh collage, Theresa. I really like the clean images of women that you are using. They are feminine and strong, delicate yet sturdy.

Love, Vicky

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, flowers are so "out there." Delicate. Strong. Temporary. Sensual. They don't hide their beauty, even though showing it means surrendering to the whole process, including shriveled petals and death. They do it anyway. Bravo. If we could all be flowers for just one day, and if that day could last for years. Teagrapple.

emmapeelDallas said...

I love flowers, but I prefer them growing...the ephemeralness (is that a word?) of cut flowers always leaves me sad. When I read this entry, I immediately thought of e.e.cummings' wonderful line: when faces called flowers push out of the ground...

Reading your words always does me good...thank you.

Judi

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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