Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Today was a warmer, breezy winter day in Boston and as I was walking through Harvard Square I smelled the scent of fresh flowers in the air. It was coming from half a block ahead of me--a bucket of pink and white carnations in front of a flower shop being rather haphazardly 'arranged' by a man.

As I approached, I said "those smell delicious. I could smell them half-way down the block." He smiled and replied, "Here. This one is for you."

I was so pleased to have a carnation to carry with me, and I admired its very long stem (about 2 feet) and its delicate frosted slips-of-leaves and breathed deeply into it as I walked down the street toward the T. I knew that as it warmed up a bit, the flower would release more scent, and I enjoyed the coolness of its creamy ivory petals on my nose.

"How under-appreciated you are," I thought, to the carnation. "You are so beautiful, so voluptuous, so taken-for-granted. Cheap flower. Filler in a bouquet of more exotic specimens. But YOU are beautiful." My next thought was, "OMG. I'm 'talking' to a flower."

"Stop staring at me," I thought to it as I sat silently in the subway car. One white flower in a dreary, mid-winter subway car actually asserts quite an imposing presence. Well, I felt it. It cheered me and brought something special into an otherwise ordinary moment. A woman was talking to herself at the other end of the car and I recalled a line from a movie about how we're all terrified of going crazy. "Where does this flower-telepathy put me?" I wondered.

A remarkable thing happened to me with this flower today. People on the street, in elevators, on the bus talked to me! I talked with more strangers today than I have in the past 2 months. "That's a nice carnation," one said. "Special occasion?" said another. "Early Valentine's Day," another guessed. "A stranger gave it to me," I answered.

The power of this flower! Wow! "I should just carry around a flower every day," I thought. "How the world would open up to me!" Or was this a special moment? A special flower? Just a day with a sniff of spring in the air ... a dead-winter day when the sight of a flower might remind people of a forgotten fecundity?

This flower and its delicate scent made of a dull day something remarkable. Without words or actions it brought comfort, beauty, surprise, conversation and opportunity into my day.

Am I crazy?
It felt like grace.

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