It’s the day after the summer solstice. I woke up to another thunderstorm this morning, just a gentle one, the thunder talking softly, and the lightening answering in a whisper, like two parents trying not to wake a child in the next room. Yesterday morning I watched a wall cloud come in from the west, beautiful and smooth and full, the deep gray-blue color of rain. I stood outside as the wind blew in, roaring through the cottonwood and hackberry trees in the creekbed and then reaching the the hedgerow of our place, not a one-direction wind but the kind that swirls and twists and lifts the limbs of trees up as if they were dancing. Big, heavy drops of rain spattered the bricks of the walk. I had been surveying the damage to my flowers from the thunderstorm of a few hours before, and now had to watch from the window as the wind and rain buffeted the garden again.
Things looked tough yesterday morning, but I spent a few hours in the afternoon staking the poppies and snapdragons and tying up the hollyhocks, which came very near being snapped off at the root. I should have had all of them tied up before now, so I’m lucky they survived. Some blooms were broken off and other plants I cut back, hoping they might not be so susceptible to wind if they weren’t so leggy.
What I really wanted was to have a solstice party. I’ve wanted to have one for the last three years, but haven’t had the nerve. Because I’m not much of a party person. I’m a capable hostess, but not one who sparkles. I don’t charm people and make everyone feel at ease. And it seems like a solstice party needs sparkle and laughter and people who feel easy and free. A Mrs. Dalloway-type. I don't really know how to make that happen. I mean, to be fair, it was such a muggy, buggy, miserable evening last night that I don’t think it would matter if I was Meryl Streep - no one would have enjoyed being out in the garden.
Nettie and I ended up making a flower crown from the damaged flowers. She’s been asking to make one for a year, every time she sees the photo of her crown from two seasons ago. But last summer I couldn’t even scrounge up enough flowers to make one for her. It was the strangest year, nothing bloomed for me. So this crown was way overdue. She’s grown so much since the last one. She knew where she wanted each flower, and of course she had doubts about my idea to include greenery. Moms have questionable taste, you know. But we managed to make something we both liked and even though we couldn’t spend the evening outside, eating and drinking lovely things and watching the sun set, I think we did the best we could in that moment. We made something beautiful together.
More and more, I feel like it’s important to celebrate. In big or small ways. It all counts. That sort of crystallized for me on the morning of the day we lost sweet old Rory. We can get very used to walking by things or people in our life and not seeing them, not really appreciating them. And that’s a shame, because nothing is permanent or promised. Even as I write this, this morning’s poppies are dropping their petals in the rain. So do what you can. Take a walk. Make a flower crown. Stop and watch a poppy nodding gently in the breeze.
No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.
- Virginia Woolf