Happiness Shared is a Flower
I recently read the quote "Happiness shared is a flower", and it resonated.
Flowers make me feel happy and growing them feels like sharing that with others.
Years ago I had flowers along the south facing rock wall of our house and in our small family garden. Then when we got busy growing our kids and food for others, I pretty much quit. We even dug out the bed next to the house to build a lean-to greenhouse for vegetable starts.
And that didn't change . . . until recently.
Here's a photo from a few days ago, from out in the vegetable fields looking back towards the house and barn.
To the right, you can see the biggest winter squash patch we’ve ever grown. Luscious with huge green leaves, it hides a treasure of ripening squashes underneath.
And then to the left, is this year’s sweet corn but also, in the foreground, part of a wide band of sunflowers.
They are striking between all the stalks of corn.
Do you smile looking at these? I can't help myself. 😊
The funny thing is, I've bought flowers seeds, and sometimes bulbs, every season,
intent on sowing them but almost never doing so.
Sometimes, Bill would get after me when he'd catch me perusing the flower sections of the seed catalogs.
He'd sneak up behind me saying, "Whatcha doing? Are you looking at flowers again?"
or "Aren't you supposed to be picking out vegetables?" knowing full well I was contemplating ordering flower seeds, yet again!
Then when my order would show up in the mail, he’d ask -
did I want to hold on to the flower seeds for a while, or should he just go ahead and compost them right away? Since that's where they'd eventually end up anyway? And that maybe, if he did it right away, we'd actually end up with some flowers,
albeit, on the compost pile.
Darn him anyway!
But, I knew he was right. Based on my prior history, that's where they'd most likely end up.
And I couldn't be mad at him.
Despite the teasing, he's always indulged me, and the many dollars I spent on this fruitless pursuit knowing full well
I probably wouldn't follow through.
(He always wants to make me happy. It's probably his biggest character flaw, AND the one I love the most!)
Superior licorice mint
Why would the seeds and bulbs end up being thrown out?
Well, back then, I'd have told you it was because Bill and I always ran out of time and energy in favor of all the other things we had to do. Things like the vegetables, animals, deliveries, markets, off-farm jobs, child-rearing, etc.
Then I'd have continued with,
I just didn't have time.
I was too tired.
I was overwhelmed.
I just couldn't plant them.
But those were all excuses. I mean, how hard is it really to throw a few flowers seeds in the soil?
Especially when we were already doing that with thousands of vegetables?
The truth is, I'd decide they didn't matter and put off growing them.
Even though I really, really wanted them.
So we're back to the question - why?
I realize now, I asked a lot of myself back then - often too much - and was very hard on myself when things didn't work out how I thought they should.
I'd blame myself.
(And sometimes Bill. Sorry buddy!)
And I wouldn't allow myself those flowers.
Unconsciously I was thinking "Nope, not this year. Not until you do better."
Maybe . . . probably . . . honestly . . . inside my head, I was telling myself I didn't deserve them.
That thought makes me sad for how I treated myself.
I didn't have my own back, did I?
And instead of dealing with my feelings, and the thoughts behind them, I let the flowers go, year after year.
Cornflowers and Baby's Breath
My optimistic nature, or my German hard-headedness, who can say for sure? held out though, and I’ve never given up hope.
On myself or on the flowers.
I've learned how to better face my worries. I've contemplated the scary and sometimes not-so-nice thoughts behind my feelings.
Now, that I know how to do that, I'll continue doing it. Because those thoughts will come back.
And, it's important to give myself some grace. Because even when I don't live up to my expectations,
I was doing the best I could at the time. given the situation, and the knowledge I had.
I can appreciate my mistakes because they helped me learn more.
Probably, most importantly, I've realized how grateful I am for my life.
This life with my family, my friends, my community, and all of you.
This life, on this farm, with all its challenges and moments of reward too.
And then last year, wonder of wonders, Aidan got interested in pollinators, and the benefits they provide in a healthy ecosystem.
While there was still snow on the ground, he came to me asking if we had any flower seeds amongst the many packets of vegetable ones waiting to be started in the greenhouse?
My response, "Are you kidding? Yes, I HAVE flower seeds!"
And had I ever thought much about planting them?
(Apparently, he’d been oblivious to the - seeds being purchased but not planted - scenario playing out season after season!)
Would I care if he helped me plant them this coming year?
"YES! YES! YES!"
I could hardly believe my ears. Was my dream coming true?
It was. Aidan's enthusiasm was just the spark I needed.
Spring came, Aidan prepped the flower beds while Bill worked on the vegetable ones. My sister Nicole and niece Cecelia joined in and helped me get them planted.
Aidan also started sunflower borders on the northern edges of our fields where they wouldn’t shade other crops.
It was happening!
The seeds germinated, grew, and blossomed.
It was so much fun to walk out to do fieldwork and see them. I took oodles of photos.
I queried my kids almost every time we happened to walk by some, if they'd seen how pretty the flowers were?
They'd rotely respond, "Yes, Mom I did." as they laughingly rolled their eyes.
And many pollinators came.
Not only the honey bees from our hives, but other insects.
And other birds - finches, tree swallows, and bluebirds - too!
Nasturtiums and Morning Glory
This all inspired Bill to put up birdhouses on the fenceposts around the farm. He fixed a broken bat house hung a previous year, but which hadn't ever really had any inhabitants and had been forgotten.
The organic inspector noticed the newly created pollinator-friendly habitat while doing the mandatory field walk and
noted it in our annual report.
That clinched it!
This summer more flower beds were started not only because they make me happy, but
because it seemed they made everyone happy!
And I wanted more.
more wildlife of all kinds,
and . . . of course . . . more happy.
Now at the end of most days you'll find me wandering around among the fields enjoying the blossoms or
maybe sitting by our firepit gazing out at the bright splashes of color scattered about.
Neighbors drive by slowly to see what's growing and to look at the flowers.
Bill counted four bats swooping around the yard the last few nights.
It's been lovely, and now I can not only say it, but feel it also -- I deserve it.
And I want to share that feeling.
Life's been stressful and hard for most everyone these last years.
Others I know also ask a lot of themselves, just like I have. And many also have others depending on them.
We all mess up and let people down, even though we don't mean to.
That's life. We're human.
And we need to be compassionate with ourselves.
Everyone's doing what they think best, and sometimes, it still isn't enough.
We learn and grow from mistakes and do better or wiser.
And I feel it instinctively,
next year I'll be planting even more flowers,
because they aren't indulgences any of us have to earn,
they’re a necessity we all - people, creatures, nature - deserve.