Patricia Chauncey 2011
The last time Tim and I were in Paris we leaned on the fence of the abandoned Iranian Embassy.
We didn't know why such a beautiful building would be empty in a thriving place in the middle of the city. The gardens were totally overgown and the flowers had escaped and seeded everywhere. Nothing was cared for but the resulting chaos had spontaneously erupted into beauty. This imposing grey stone building with a lawn full of flowers that I had never seen before punctuated by scarlet red poppies and cinquefoile.
I know we were soaking wet from one of those Parisian rains that happen when the sky darkens instantaneously and burst so dramatically that is like having someone dump whole buckets of water on your head. The sun blasts back out and shines like nothing has happened. The Parisian people are rather like the weather. Dramatic one minute and completely warm and oblivious the next. It just might be the wonderful wine.
The last red poppy I remembered seeing was growing spontaneously right in the middle of a busy sidewalk in Manhattan. Growing through the crack. People intentionally stepped around it to allow it's growth. Was that empathy for a struggling little flower or just a need for garden ?
We were walked in family gardens all through England. Right after tea. Out in all kinds of weather for a little slow walk around the garden to admire the flowers. Orderly little flowers planted with intention. Tended carefully with a scientific interest and tradition.
Last weekend was a disaster for me. I am Canadian and there are not the spontaneous explosions like in France. We have a smoldering build-up to anger here. A denial for the reasons it happens and a nurturing of hurts that we seem to hide from one another. A harsh avoidance of truth and vulnerability. Followed by this awful sour self loathing.
Whatever the reason my instinct was to get up very early in the morning, get dressed and out of the hotel to take a long slow walk alone to look at the frozen vegetation near the boardwalk surrounding that part of the lake.To sooth myself. There were seed pods everywhere covered in hoar frost or submerged under the clear ice. In the last stages of deterioration before spring. In amongst the vegetation was a poppy seed pod which I had to pluck and tuck in my pocket. It didn't survive the trip home. I barely did. I dusted the seeds out of my pocket and let them drift over the snow in the little town of Merritt, B.C.
I was taught that if you want the brilliantly coloured poppies you need to sprinkle the seeds on the snow by second snowfall. They need to struggle for life to develop strong roots. That need for eternity.
Reminds me of part of a poem stuck to me for years and never left.
"Through diaphanous clouds do seep the seeds of perpetuity."