Petals and Patience

“Patience” comes from the same ancient roots as “petals”—to open like a flower, to unfurl, to receive the stroke of a moth’s tongue and the ministrations of a bee. And so we are given “passive” and “patient” and “passionate.”

Kathleen Dean Moore in Wild Comfort

The flower you see in the photo above is a trillium, so named because it has three leaves, three sepals, and three petals. It is found growing in woodland forests in the spring, one of the first flowers to bloom, and for that reason is sometimes called wake robin, as if the robins need a splash of white from the forest floor to get their attention.

It is a good time to be thinking about spring flowers, for outside my office window the snow has accumulated to almost a foot deep, and the temperature a few days ago dipped well below zero. Just thinking about flowers reminds me that they are still there beneath the snow, patiently waiting for warmer days and more sunlight. More importantly, I remember that there is absolutely nothing I can do to hasten that process, so I try to practice the “patiently waiting” thing.

I have never been much of a gardener, but my fondness for flowers began in my early days of hiking when I quickly came to love the profusion of blooms that carpet montane meadows: marsh marigolds with their white blossoms and leathery green leaves growing next to the small streams, glacier lilies pushing their way through the snow to display their nodding yellow flowers, the showy pink clusters of rhododendrons growing beneath the dark forest canopy.

I began bringing flowers into my home many years ago in the form of flowering houseplants: African violets, orchids, Christmas cacti, cyclamens. Anything that blooms is worthy of my attention and care, and especially this time of year I am glad for the color they add to my home during these darkest days of winter. When I began this collection I was not aware of why I felt so compelled to bring flowering houseplants into my home, only that it seemed important, even urgent.

Many years later while I write this blog as an old woman and reflect on the way that hiking and backpacking have impacted my life, the reason for these blooming beings that surround me in my home is clear enough. I have created my own flowering meadow. It blooms on the windowsills and on the kitchen table, on the shelves in my bedroom, where I awaken in the morning and remember that the world is still in bloom despite the darkness.

The citrus tree will soon open its buds and perfume this room with the intoxicating fragrance of life in bloom. Instead of bees to pollenate the flowers, I will use a Q-tip to perform that task, and in a few months extremely tart lemons about the size of ping-pong balls will weigh down the limbs of the small tree.

These flowers will fill my home and my attention until that first walk in the spring, when a flash of white appears beneath the trees, a perfect creation with three leaves, three sepals, and three petals. And the robins will awaken and announce that the world is in bloom once again, inside and outside.

Published by Colleen Drake

Colleen Drake (AKA Teacup) has over sixty years of hiking exerience (yes, I'm really old) and has seen some pretty big changes over those many years. Join her on the Solitude Trail & share some of these adventures while exploring with her the value of solitude in the wilderness.

One thought on “Petals and Patience

  1. Portland is being dusted by snow at the moment. Temp is 32 ish. It probably won’t last. It’s a fun moment nevertheless. Have a good week. ❤️Jan

    Sent from my iPhone

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