Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flowers and Tradition

I have written in the past about flowers and tradition. It amazes me how interwoven flowers are with many of our celebrations. Yet, I think that most of us do not give much thought to this. With Valentine's Day approaching, I think it is appropriate to explore this phenomenon in more depth and in upcoming weeks, I hope to come back to it a few times. But today...I am going to focus on how special flowers can make an occasion for a child.

This past weekend, my five-year-old daughter performed in her first play. "Don't forget to get her flowers," another stage-mom reminded me. "The kids love flowers. They get very excited." And it's true. Don't we all love to get flowers? But why does this little tradition excite even a five-year-old? Wouldn't just taking her out for an ice cream (as my parents did) or hot chocolate (as we do here in New England because it is so darn cold right now) be enough?

Here are my thoughts... #1 getting flowers seems so very grownup. #2 the bright colored flowers are special in themselves and remind the little ones of the "specialness" of an occasion. #3 having something tangible to remind us of a special occasion for a few weeks keeps the excitement going just a bit longer.

I wonder, are flowers just appropriate to give to a little girl - especially a little princess-type girl who has just performed in Cinderella? Would a little boy like to get flowers too? (I'll leave this to mothers of boys to answer for me.)

In the past, I have given my daughter flowers for Easter, for trips to the Farmer's Market as "just because" the flowers were fresh and beautiful gifts, and for ballet recitals. Flowers are interwoven into our lives mainly because of my deep love for gardening. My little one understands that it is important to hold nature in high regard and to cherish the bright living jewels it gives us in the form of flowers. But I think this appreciation has also come outside the garden -- from the traditions we are slowly establishing that weave plants into her life. I hope that she will always see a bouquet of flowers as something special, to include in special occasions, to show pride and love.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Bit of Winter Sunshine

I am one of those people affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. When winter comes to New England, I just want to sleep through the season. I drag myself out of bed and follow some steps to shake off the winter blues. In addition to regular exercise (I find yoga most helpful,) I take vitamin D supplements and use a sunlamp.

My sunlamp is one of my most prized possessions. It is about ten years old now. It's a large box, about the size of a small suitcase. When I turn it on, the room takes on a surreal glow that is a bit eerie. I sit about 3 yards from the lamp while I do my computer work and slowly feel myself begin to perk. It's not exactly like gardening in the sunshine, but it is a close enough facsimile of sunshine that I can close my eyes and pretend I'm really at the beach if I want. Behind my eyelids I see that telltale glow that one gets when sunbathing.

During warmer months, I sit out in a sunroom that look out at my gardens. This time of year, I move to an interior room where I won't see the snow. The room is painted a warm sunshine yellow and my sunlamp warms the color further. The color reminds me of sunflowers.

My sunlamp is also useful for still life picture taking and unusual portrait taking. It rakes subjects with a warm light and help create unique shadows.

I hope that I"ll never have to go back to my life without my little box. This morning, as ice once again pelts my house, I sit here with a cup of coffee, listening to my five-year-old giggling as she plays a computer game. I let the sunshine absorb me and transport me to my garden sunshine happy place.