Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flowers in the Home...

Today's CSA dahlias in the late afternoon sun.

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck." ~Emma Goldman

When we lived in England, we loved taking drives to discover charming villages tucked away off the main roads. Wherever we went, the flowers and gardens were beautiful. Everyone in England grew flowers, it seemed, and buckets of fresh-cut daffodils or tulips, or whatever was blooming, were for sale in front of shops everywhere. I made a habit of buying a pretty bouquet for our dining table or windowsill every time I walked into town.

Emerson said that earth laughs in flowers, and, it's true; God has made our world beautiful with them. One of the things I love about walking and hiking is seeing the often stunning display of colorful wildflowers that are everywhere outdoors, and I really enjoy having some of that color and loveliness in the house, too. I don't have extensive gardens for cutting flowers or a great ability to arrange bouquets, but flowers are so beautiful on their own, what does it matter? Even a solitary bloom, plunked into the most humble container, looks lovely, which is a lucky thing for me.

One nice thing about living in the country is that I can take a long walk and come home with a spray of wildflowers. I always buy flowers at the farmers' market if they're available, and this year, I purchased a CSA flower share to go along with my weekly produce. We got our first little bunch today-- all dahlias.

Flowers, or something else from nature, add much to the charm and beauty of a home. In some parts of the world, having fresh flowers in the house is considered essential. Edith Schaeffer wrote about this in The Hidden Art of Homemaking:

"In Holland fresh cut flowers are generally considered a necessity. We are told that even the very poor people in Holland put aside a guilder or two for flowers every week. Dutch homes are characterized by enormously wide windows at the front. As you walk down a street in Holland you are very conscious of flowers-- flowers from front to back, in the rooms and beyond in the gardens. When someone comes for dinner, or to spend the day, or to celebrate a birthday or greet a visitor from a far country, whatever the occasion, if you are Dutch, you come with a handful of flowers, bought in the stalls beside the canals, in the town square, or in a florist shop. When I am in Holland I often remember the daily admonition recited to us in the Newburgh Free Academy in New York State... Dr. Doughty, the principal, always started the daily assembly by reciting, 'If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily!' The students often used to giggle or smirk, or make sarcastic little whispers in reply, but it is not a bad idea! The bread becomes a different thing when eaten at a table with the lily in the centre."