Summer does not officially start until summer solstice, which falls on June 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere. However, most of us having gone through a harsh winter could not wait but usher in ‘summer’ over the Victoria Day Long weekend, which fell on May 21 to 23. Even if one forgets about this well honored tradition of summer’s unofficial arrival in Ontario, one couldn’t help but noticed gardeners flocking to nurseries bringing home their favorite flowers, before the perennials start blooming in their gardens. Victoria Day’s arrival offers us confidence that our new acquisitions will survive from this day onwards, barring the occasional drastic weather. And drastic we did have already, from a thunderstorm on May 21 that left 10 dead, many fallen trees and tens of thousands without power for days into weeks, and then a record breaking heat on May 31.
Amongst other annual rituals, I hang a basket of impatiens on the gazebo in the corner of my backyard to mark the beginning of ‘summer’. Rather than buying a ready to hang basket, I usually create one myself. This way, I get to choose the color and type that will do well in that corner of my yard. Red impatiens usually survive the shade and stand out in the relative shadowed part of the garden. Further, creating my own basket surely save some money than getting a prearranged one, particular in these days of running inflation. The only down side, unlike a ready to hang basket, flowers take time to settle after being transplanted into their adopted basket. They need to be comfortably rooted, before they feel belonged, grow and show their true colors.
A week has passed and I looked with satisfaction from a distant window to see my basket of impatiens taking root and blossoming into a round bouquet of redness, amidst a bed of green cedar behind. Hanging baskets elevate their inhabitants to a new height where they can show their beauty. Their height however also places them at risk. I water my plants early in the morning to keep them well nourished from the heat buildup through the summer day, and early enough so that they won’t be sleeping with their ‘feet’ wet during the night. As I watered my impatiens, I suddenly heard a big thumping sound and watched the basket tumbling down hard onto the ground. The basket cracked open and the flowers spluttered out with only parts remained inside, lopsided if not smashed. It’s reminiscent of the scene of a motor vehicle accident.
I remembered having seen a barely visible crack on the basket when I first transplanted the impatiens. Ignoring the hairline crack, I didn’t think twice if the basket would hold its inhabitants well. And it did, until the water that I poured in weighted on it. The pressure suddenly reached a threshold where the crack widened, sending the basket with the flowers within tumbling down together. The height of the flowers created the deadly momentum that sent it tumbling, smashing instantly on impact.
What was just described may well describe many of our life experiences. Being held high and visible often puts us in a lofty and admired position. But when we fall from that height, it hurts a lot more. Nonetheless, one cannot blame on height alone. The crack that I didn’t pay much attention to was already there. A barely noticeable crack was benign, until the pressure on it became unbearable. What was intended to nourish us in our growing process, like water for the flowers, could become a burden when showered upon, too much too fast. More so, an inherent weakness in us, when unattended to and untreated, suddenly became an open wound that no remedy was ready to mend.
I picked up and tried to salvage all the pieces, transplanting them into another basket. This time, with one that I could detect no cracks. Other than the intact pieces, I stuck back a few broken ones which I felt I could save. From that day onward, I carefully watched over the sorry state of my impatiens. While I so wanted to see them quickly return to their glorious state, which was there only the day before, I would be happy to settle with any sign of life or gleam of hope for rejuvenation. There was not much I could do, but to water and wait. I noticed the broken pieces that I stuck back into the soil weren’t doing much. They hanged onto their sorry state of temporary existence, while drawing nutrients away from those trying to thrive. Reluctantly, yet determined, I pulled them out.
Now a week or so has passed since that tumbling crash, I can see some resemblance of a red bouquet returning. In life … not only do we fall from time to time, we try to come back from our tumbles. It takes time for us to recover from a shocking crash of whatever kind. Our shaken nerves, like the bruised roots, need to settle in the soil, find our footing and wait to blossom again. Waiting is a virtue, as we can spoil things by undue haste. Waiting is nevertheless not a passive pastime , as we take time to prune away what is stalling our growth.
The crack of the fallen basket reminded me that weaknesses in us not addressed in time can open up to damaging wounds. Ignoring one’s Achilles’ heel, while trying to spring forth and hasten growth, can inadvertently cost more damage. On this, my impatiens has taught me patience in the journey to bouncing back and blossom.