Lessons From a Broken Flower

Lessons From a Broken Flower September 20, 2016

broken flower 03Those of you who are long-time readers of this blog – and who have good memories – may remember this flower pot. It was part of Ostara – A Solitary Ritual in March of 2015. I do not publish rituals I haven’t actually done myself – I wrote the ritual, performed it, and took pictures as I did. This ritual involved planting seeds – I planted seeds from a decorative plant in the wooden pot. I kept the seed packet at first, but it’s long gone and I can’t remember what I planted. I may be a good Druid but I’m a lousy gardener.

March weather in Texas is extremely variable, so I kept the plant inside. It sprouted quickly and started growing, but by the time it was ready to transplant into the ground, summer was here and I didn’t want to risk burning it up in the gauntlet of 100 degree days. So it stayed indoors all year. Late this spring I finally moved it outdoors, but wanted to get it acclimated to the warmer temperatures before trying to transplant it.

I waited too long and the heat returned. A bit of drought combined with a bit of neglect and within a week it was dead.

Or so I thought. I cleared out the brown vines and started to dump the soil into the back yard, but I procrastinated again: “I’ll do that this weekend.” Within a week there were new shoots coming through the soil. Within another week the vines were growing stronger and greener than ever before. I’ve tried not to repeat the same mistakes of negligence – I’ve watered it regularly and put it in a place where it gets some sun but not hours of direct sun. I’m thinking again about transplanting, but I need to figure out if I should do that in the fall (about two more weeks, if the weather forecast can be believed) or if I should bring it inside for the winter and try again in April or May.

Last Friday I got another surprise. I went outside to water the plant and saw that after 18 months with nothing but green vines and leaves, it was producing a flower. And not just any flower. It hadn’t opened yet, but it was thick and heavy and it was going to be beautiful. I took a close look at it – it seemed rather large compared to the rest of the plant, but there it was… and if I haven’t made it clear by now, plant lore was not my specialty in Druid studies. I figured I’d watch it closely and take some pictures after it opened.

But when I went out on Saturday morning, this is what I saw.

broken flower 04

I examined the stem – it’s a clean break. Nothing to indicate a rabbit or a stray cat did it. To put it in engineering terms, there was too much torque on the stem – the flower head was just too heavy and it snapped.

I felt a variety of emotions in that moment: anger at myself for not transplanting it sooner so the flower head could rest on the ground. Disappointment at yet another example of my lack of gardening skills. But mainly sadness, that what I thought was the beginning of something beautiful had died before it ever opened.

I’m sure the flower thought (to the extent that a flower thinks) it had a bright, beautiful future ahead of itself. It had waited for all these months and it was tired of waiting. Why should it wait further until its stem was thicker and could support more weight? Why should it seek support among the vines instead of reaching as far as it could as fast as it could? And why on Earth should it rest on the human-built structure of a wooden pot instead of reaching for the sky on its own?

No, it was a flower, it was going to bloom now, and no one was going to tell it otherwise.

There are only two things in Nature: the things you can do, and the things you can’t do. Many times we are capable of far more than we think – striving to break barriers is a good thing. But other times we strike out before we’re prepared, we ignore the support we have available to us, and we disdain the structures around us and the structures others are building.

When I went outside on Sunday morning, the dead flower was gone. Was it dinner for a local rabbit? Did the overnight rain wash it away? I don’t know. To be honest, if I didn’t have the pictures I might wonder if I hadn’t imagined it all. Perhaps the flower was another case of the Otherworld bleeding through, though I do not think so.

What I do know is that something that could have been beautiful tried to rise too far too fast without the support it needed, and now it is no more.

broken flower 05

Browse Our Archives