Sunday, October 24, 2010

stragglers in the garden of life

Today after I came back home from my morning walk with Tassu, I went to dig out the dahlia bulbs from my flower garden. While our autumn days have been pleasant, and it hasn't snowed yet, you never know what the next day will bring. So, I thought I'd better not let another day go by else I'll be digging through snow with frozen fingers looking for those dahlia bulbs. After lifting out the bulbs, hosing them down, and collecting them into a large red plastic pail, I picked up the two leftover dahlia blooms that I had snipped off the plant before cutting it down, and decided to walk around the yard and see if I could find any other stragglers still blooming.

Sure enough, here and there I found a splash of colour livening up the decay of dead leaves and plants, so I snipped Arabian Nights dahlia, geranium, chive flower, salvia, calendula, mustard flower, jemima-jump up, comfrey bells, white clips, pink mist, parsley spray, purple button, petunia, and summertime sunset. Gathering them up into a colorful spring-like bouquet that belies their falltime lateblooming, I brought them indoors and popped them into an old chipped Iittala glass that I could never bear to throw out, so I use it for this purpose--hosting small flower bunches.Playing with the light, I tried placing the bouquet by the old Singer sewing machine drawers lined with mirrors that I was given as a gift some years back. Looking at my two photos together calls to mind how context shapes how one sees something, at how different the same thing can look depending on what surrounds it, dark or light, or even perhaps how dark or light one's mood is shapes what one sees, or fails to see. We see different things in the dark and from the dark and we see differently in the light. And in the twilight and dawn? Isn't that the time our eyes and minds play tricks on us? Or is that when we see beyond our limitations?

Yesterday I went to a funeral for a friend of mine whom I haven't known for too many years, but who endeared herself to the people she met since moving to Thunder Bay five years ago; she was 94. One of her jobs before she retired was seamstress; she used to be a seamstress for the Singer Sewing Machine Company in Ottawa. The chaplain who led the internment at Mountainview Cemetery read a number of poems as well as verses from the Bible. He began with Gibran, an excerpt from The Prophet, On Joy and Sorrow. Surprisingly to me, it was one of the writings I had assigned for my students in my summer class on Arab literature of the diaspora. Standing in the shadow of the Norwester Mountains in the circle of friends gathered at the gravesite, I was moved to realize how much more emotionally profound the words were at a funeral rather than in a classroom.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.


marja-leena said...

Lovely flowers! I'm surprised that you have so many still in bloom this late. Here the cold rains, not frost, have washed away a lot of mine. I recognize that Iittala glass! Lovely poem too.

Merche Pallarés said...

I was going to say, more or less, the same as MARJA-LEENA! Beautiful flowers and verse from the Bible. Very true. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

Hello ML, well, there are only a few here and there; my yard is actually very yellow with many leaves having fallen to the ground or shrivelled up into brown crisps.

MP, isn't a small bunch of flowers perhaps more of a balm for the soul than a large showy bouquet?

The verse is from Khalil Gibran, not the Bible. His writing is quite spiritual and hymn-like in many places.