Furnished with Flowers

July 12, 2012

Jelly jar with a few seasonal blooms

Flowers of the season

Bouquet from my friend Carol, who makes gorgeous arrangements of cut flowers from her garden

“How fitting to have every day, in a vase of water on your table, the wild flowers of the season which are just blossoming.  Can any house be said to be furnished without them?”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journal, July 5, 1852

I love having a few natural things, found objects or a bloom or two, on my work table.  but whenever I’m given one of my friend Carol’s spectacular bouquets, I just bask in their beauty.


Leaves of a yellow buckeye tree

“This is June, the month of grass and leaves. The deciduous trees are investing the evergreens and revealing how dark they are. Already the aspens are trembling again, and a new summer is offered me. I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts, as if I might be too late. Each season is but an infinitesimal point. It no sooner comes than it is gone. It has no duration. It simply gives a tone and hue to my thought.”
— Henry David Thoreau, journal entry June 6, 1857

How fleeting the seasons are.  How fleeting life is.  I read this quote in one of the blogs I follow called Anecdotal Evidence: A Blog about the Intersection of Books and Life.  At the time Thoreau wrote this passage in his journal, he would live only long enough to see four more Junes.

I often think about death and the brevity of one’s life.  Sometimes I think about writing a “Death blog” to share my collection of quotes and poems about this final passage.  I believe that thinking about my eventual death helps me to appreciate the time I have, helps me to stay focused on living each moment more deeply.

Summer seems like an odd time to contemplate death, but as we all know, people die every day.  Every year we unwittingly pass the anniversary of our deaths — we just don’t know the date yet.  Here is a poem that reminds us of that:

For the Anniversary of My Death
by W. S. Merwin

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what




“All things keep time with the seasons.”
Thomas Carew, “The Spring”

“The ephemeral nature of flowers whose blooms come fleetingly once a year to claim our admiration only adds to their enchantment.  Flowers and plants are dulcet emblems of the natural world — messengers from the landscape to herald the seasons.  They are points of light that sustain us with their beauty.”
— Ngoc Minh Ngo, Bringing Nature Home:  Floral Arrangements Inspired by Nature

Fallen camellias on my front steps

Stages of decay

Spent blossoms

The end of the camellia season. Time for something new.

“Live each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

What is your special taste of the season?

What are those special influences of winter?  Can I befriend the cold and darkness instead of enduring or resigning myself to them?

When winter means rain instead of snow, I find it more difficult to evoke the cozy feeling of hibernating under a blanket of whiteness, the quiet calmness of a silent landscape, or the playful joy of an unexpected snow day.  I have to work harder at appreciating the gifts of this damp season.

But after a bit of thought, I compiled the following  Winter “To-Do” List to help me make the most of the next couple of months:

  • Sleep late, and don’t feel guilty
  • Splurge on a chai tea latte with soy
  • Light candles
  • Make kale chips
  • Take a night walk
  • Bake a gingerbread dessert
  • Finish a hand-quilting project
  • Plan a summer vacation
  • Make soup from scratch
  • Play a board game
  • Learn to use my MP3 player and listen to some music

“We cannot wait for the weather to change before we begin to live.”
— Tim Farrington, A Hell of a Mercy:  A Meditation on Depression

“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.”
— Pietro Aretino, 1537

“I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out.  At night I read and write, and things I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.”
— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose than wish a snow in May’s newfangled mirth.”
— William Shakespeare

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the Year.”
— Emily Dickinson

Frosty leaves in the gutter

Icy raindrops on these frosty leaves look like peas in a pod

“November is Autumn’s burial . . .”
— Donald Hall, Seasons at Eagle Pond

“Winter starts in November, whatever the calendar says, with gray of granite, with russet and brown of used leaves.”
— Donald Hall, Seasons at Eagle Pond

It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s gray and brown.  Yes, it certainly feels like mid-Winter already, though it’s not even December yet.

Passing Seasons

November 30, 2009

A late November morning at Green Lake

Rosy pink dawn at Green Lake

“Live each season as it passes.”
     — Henry David Thoreau

Another month has passed, and soon autumn will dissolve into winter. The days are so short.  Sometimes you have to get up early to experience the best light before the thick gray clouds take over the day.  This is late fall in Seattle.