Lovely Little Surprises

My garden has afforded me many surprises this spring.

Earlier in April, it was a dazzling visual display of white, violet, and fuschia tulips, and shortly thereafter came the heady aroma of the lilac bushes. (I could hardly stand to keep my windows closed, especially when it would rain.)

Then, a couple of weeks ago (the same day I discovered oregano, chives, and lavender hiding under larger shrubs in my planters), it was yellow roses–bright, canary-colored roses. I’d like to think they bloomed just for me, knowing that their brightness would carry me through the melancholy days to come.

A friend recently told me, “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” A lot like flowers, don’t you think? Sometimes, they’re delivered to your office or left on your doorstep. Other times, you transplant petunias (which, for the record, I despise) and enjoy the things for just a few short months. And still other times, if you’re lucky, the tulips, the lilacs, and the roses keep blooming, year after year.

In friendship, there are annuals and there are perennials. Some are there for a while, making their beautiful mark on your life, then quietly disappear. Others show up time after time (sometimes even after you have prematurely pruned and overzealously deadheaded), appearing when you might not expect–but when you need them the most. They are the friends that:

-drop everything to change a girl’s battery and calm her down as she weeps about feeling helpless.
-help her pack, move, unpack, rearrange furniture and decorate.
-demand she write down all the reasons she is beautiful.
-bring over movies, popcorn, licorice, beer, and pajamas when she says, “I just need a friend.”
-sneak over to her house while she’s away and mow her lawn.
-leave a flower on her doorstep on Valentine’s Day, just to remind her she’s special.
-wait for her at the top after climbing a steep hill on a mountain bike (when most people keep going).
-ask her to dance and don’t blink an eye when she steps on toes.
-change her light bulb. Literally. (I’m petite. No judging.)
-remove the pull tabs from hundreds of cans before recycling and give them to her so they can be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.
-read posts, tweets, and updates via social media and respond to undertones via text with, “I’m thinking of you.”
-truly forgive when an apology is offered.

One thing is for sure: My garden continues to surprise me–as do my friends.

The brightest flowers–and the most dynamic acquaintances–tend to fool us. We think their longevity is equal to or greater than their intensity, when really, it’s the people whom we think are going to be the most dependable often disappoint us the most. These friends, the ones whom we’d drop everything for, the individuals for whom we’d make the utmost sacrifice– sometimes they’re nowhere to be found. At our darkest hour, they refuse to bloom. Or worse, they poison us.

I’ve decided I don’t want petunias for friends. I don’t want fair-weather companions that flash a little bit of color for a few short weeks and then wither away, having offered nothing of permanent value to the garden of my life. I want perennials in my world.

To my delight, the roses in my garden are still blooming. In fact, the same plant that produced those bright yellow blossoms a few weeks ago is now producing brilliant magenta ones, as if to say, “Here I am, friend.”

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