Grandma called them Old Maids.
Grown by her back porch,
coming inside to bunch in a Mason jar
or dry for next year’s seeds.
She let me pick the ones I wanted.
I loved them because they were pretty.
In our back yard is a row of tiny ones,
smaller than Grandma’s Old Maids,
more color in our flowers than our leaves
in South Texas Autumn.
Nora picks this one for me.
She loves it because it is pretty
here Fall brings no leaf peeper
for leaves with scarlet and amber
but there is change in the way light brushes leaves
the slightest shift in angle, a beckoning gentleness
my heart is dappled with the touch of autumn light
Globe Amaranth, Gomphrena
This flower is small but you almost never see just one or two plants. They have visual impact because they are usually seen massed together in a flower bed. That could be because there are so many seeds in a bloom not much bigger than the end of my thumb. Every petal becomes a seed. I once had Joe stop by a road for me to collect a couple of flower heads because that particular patch was a variety called Strawberry Fields – bright red pom poms waving in the sun.
It may be a stretch, but as I held this flower my granddaughter picked, an odd comparison floated up in my mind. I recently read in a morning quiet time the phrase “sturdy faith.” The words stuck and I have frequently considered what it means to have that quality, so necessary in a world of confusion and uncertainty.
Thrives in heat and does not need pampering.
Blooms nearly nonstop
Good for cutting and drying to share in many ways.
Attracts butterflies, adding to our garden’s beauty.
Harvesting promotes flower production.
from caterpillar to chrysalis
she watched and smiled and waited
gift unwrapped, waiting done
girl and butterfly, quivering with excitement
lift new wings and fly!
purple clusters, wafting fragrance
saffron tissue ruffles
May I have a dozen of these?
heart petals unfold
opening to mystery
leaving room for new seed
“Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring.”
Henri Frederic Amiel
This one tiny shell is less than 2 inches tip to tip, half the size of its photo. Although I have a basket of shells that are larger, I keep this one on top of the gratitude journal in which I write every morning. I pick it up before I open the book. It is almost weightless in the palm of my hand, yet it is heavy with stories.The shell is one of a number of True Tulip shells collected when Joe and I went with our sons out to the mud flats off Sanibel Island, Florida. We spent most of the time on the beach near our rental apartment, searching for shells, building sand castles and a tracking a hurricane! Our sons still talk about it.
We added this to our last few days on the island because of a disappointed 9-year-old son. Jeremy used his trip money at the local Wal-Mart to buy a throw net, a net with weights that can be cast out to bring in small fish and other treasures. After only a single use, the net was stolen from the area where he had carefully spread it to dry. We planned the trip out into the flats to gather shells to soften the loss, an adventure all of us would enjoy.
I had no way of knowing in 1980 that many years later, one of the smallest of the shells collected during that family fun would be held in my hand during my morning prayer time. It is one tiny shell, holding the sounds of the ocean and the laughter of my sons.