Friday, June 1, 2012

When a Flower Follows

Both of my grandmothers had a magic touch with flowers,
but my Grandmother Annie grew more flowers than just about anyone I had ever seen.
She tended colorful flowers planted around the foundation of her house
and in a huge garden that swept across the backyard.
One day she was showing my mom her flowers as I tagged along.
Mom saw a cheery little flower growing along the shady side of the house
and asked what it was.  My grandmother reached down
 and pushed a larger leaf aside and said, "That's a sultana."
I liked the sound of the name sultana so I looked.
It's strange, but at the moment I felt connected to that little flower,
commonly known as impatiens today.

Decades after that stroll through my grandmother's flowers,
 I planted some impatiens in window boxes on the front porch railings of my house.
Some time later, I was astonished to see an impatiens flowering among the shrubs below.
How did that get there, I wondered.
Soon, another impatiens bloomed around the shrubs, then another.
By that time, I figured the impatiens must be re-seeding themselves, but how?
Then one day while I was picking spent leaves off of the plants,
 a sudden volley of sticky seeds popped against my stomach.
One of the fat green pods growing under the blossoms had burst open.
Mystery solved.
I have planted impatiens wherever I have lived for over twenty-five years.
And they always return to me each spring.
Here are some of my volunteers this year:

These little gems are the most tenacious flower I've ever seen.
They seem to appear out of nowhere. 
I have found them growing out of the siding, in drain trays,
and in the soft, spongey wood of old flower boxes.
Here's one that grew between the foundation and a concrete walk :

I read once that what we want in life has been following us all along,
waiting for us to notice its presence.
I think that's true:
the best things in life are those that come without our first seeking them.
Lovely little surprises, these.

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