Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Power of Orange

Last fall I decided to completely clean out the front flower beds and start over. Only a burgundy daylily was spared, and I ran to Lowe's to find new flowers. We rented for several years after moving back to Arkansas, so I had forgotten how quickly the bill adds up when you want to fill a bed to overflowing with colorful blooms. As I calculated the damages in my head, I began to remember why it took me about five years to get the perfect combination of perennials and bulbs to create never-ending color in my Utah gardens. I finally settled on some spring bulbs, a few mums that had been marked down to 50 cents but that still looked salvageable, and a couple of flats of yellow pansies, which I hoped would gradually fill in the big dirt rectangle that I had so rashly cleared out.

I chose all yellow pansies for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am horrible at combining colors, so I decided sticking with one color was safe. I also have a side of me that craves order and symmetry and control, so imagining a blanket of orderly yellow flowers calmed that inner control freak.

Little did I know, however, that a rebel lurked in the dirt. When I first bought the pansies, only a few of them had blooms, so I just had to trust that they were all yellow.  But there was one--only one--who dared to be different, one who had the gumption to interrupt my wave of cheerful yellow with...ORANGE.

I know, I sounds like I'm overreacting.  (Maybe I am, just a little bit.)  But you don't understand how I had worked so hard to have predictability in just one little part of my life only to have this silly plant stick its tongue out at me every time I walked out my front door. At first I thought it was a fluke, so I pinched off the blossom. After all, the buds looked just as yellow as the buds on the other pansies.  Pinching it back just made it grow more enthusiastically, and I swear each new bloom was more orange than the last. The botanical brat had spunk, that's for sure, and I started to grow fond of the little plant.  In fact, I started to identify with it.

You see, this pansy had leaves and stems and roots and blossoms just like all the others. It followed the laws of nature, but it followed them with style. It didn't care that the other pansies in the bed were all yellow; it was going to bloom its heart out with a vibrancy that expressed all its joy and happiness and desire to give and love and be. (I know that sounds like an awful lot of emotion to attribute to a single plant, but trust me, I've been hanging out with this flower for a few months now, and this is a spirited set of petals.) 

Sometimes I feel kind of like that pansy. Sure, I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister--but I also don't bloom quite like everybody else. I have to admit, however, that I haven't reveled in my unique color palette the way my little pansy in the front yard has. For years, others would pinch back my blooms, trying to make me conform, and I put all my energy into trying to bloom yellow.  It left me feeling lifeless and lost and unlovable. Only in the past few years have I started to embrace my orange-ness.

I've learned to accept that I live life to the extreme. I overdose on something new until I'm sick of it. For example, I may turn my entire house upside down trying to make the perfect cake truffle...

Only to make so many flippin' truffles that I never want to see cake or dipping chocolate again.

And I've learned to accept that I'm a nerd and always will be. If I combine nerdiness with religion, I become somebody who could spend eight hours a day reading scriptures and still want to order out for pizza at day's end because I'm not done yet. All of this means that when I was asked to teach early morning seminary (and get up before the roosters to do so)...


I was ecstatic even though most of the people at church offered me their sympathy. Getting up at 4am makes me feel like I constantly get a two-for-one special. Each day is so long, it actually feels like two days rolled into one, and most of the time that turns out to be a good thing.

And maybe the craziest sounding way that I am blooming to my own palette right now involves my children. My boys are 16, 14, and almost 12. When most mothers are enjoying having offspring who can fully bathe, dress, and feed themselves, I am dreaming of having more babies. If I look at the situation logically, I understand why people think I ought to have my head examined, but it just feels right.  At least the steps we have taken so far to make that possible--getting my tubal ligation reversed--that feels right. And even going to Mexico to have that done, which made all the naysayers cluck their tongues and shake their heads, that felt right, too.

Dr. Diaz, Dr. Levi, and me the day after surgery

I have no idea what will happen next. I don't know if we will be blessed with another baby or if this was all a lesson in being willing to do what seems crazy.  All I know is the older I get, the more comfortable I am with blooming however I bloom, even if I don't match any of the other flowers around me. My little orange pansy obeys the laws of nature, and everything else is negotiable. As long as I follow the laws of heaven, I figure I can bloom the brightest orange my little petals can muster, and I will turn out just fine, too.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Stunning picture of the flowers, will definitely make my day. Keep posting.