Santa Monica, CA — Yesterday, a post from The Old Farmer’s Almanac popped up on my Facebook feed: “Meaning of Flowers & Symbolic Language.”
I scanned a few familiar Herbs: Mint (Virtue), Rosemary (Remembrance), Thyme (Strength). Then, there it was….at the end of the list: Zinnia.
“Zinnia (Thoughts of Absent Friends)”
How appropriate and on-target as I noted the turning of the calendar page from June to July remarking to myself that the Zinnias I sowed in late April would now be starting to bloom.
I, myself, have become one of those Absent from the Garden Spot of the Universe.
Zinnias have always been a part of my family life. In my youth, Mom and Dad planted a big garden in the back yard reserving a full row on the northern end for a thick hedge of Zinnia.
The “breaking of the garden” was a big event each Spring.
I can still recall myself as a little kid trailing behind Dad as he crushed dead-headed Zinnias from the previous year as we sowed the seeds together — he not minding that my sowing technique was a bit haphazard at best.
Zinnias remind me of my mother, though. I consider them to be “her flower.” I grow them in memory of her, to honor her, to remain connected to her even though 31 years have passed since we were last together.
A vase of freshly cut zinnias always graced our kitchen table during the summer months in Kentucky. My mother used an old red-handled pair of gardening scissors to cut them, and often, she entrusted the selection to me.
Mom always wanted the flowers cut before the sun shone on them, so I would be sent to the garden in the early morning or late in the evening to gather a bunch. Our garden was so plentiful that our neighbors also enjoyed a bouquet here and there. Such were those times of kindness and community.
Sometimes, as a bratty teenager, I did not appreciate being chosen amongst my layabout brothers to go cut flowers, but now, decades later, I treasure the memories of presenting my mother with a carefully selected bunch and feel honored she always asked me.
So, “Thoughts of Absent Friends” feels just right.
Hoping Summer is treating everyone’s garden well in La Rue County and that the Zinnias are plentiful. Remember to share some.
Absent Friends, indeed.