I used to walk through the flower section of the grocery store with longing in my heart. I would drag myself past all those beautiful bouquets of roses, daisies, daffodils, irises, tulips, freesias, lavender, heather, baby’s breath, eucalyptus, gladioli, and lilies. My nose would take in the gorgeous aromas and I would hold in my breath half way through the store, trying to retain the fragrance for as long as I could. I would smile at the clever and often unexpected combinations of flowers and greens. I would actually, literally, feast my senses on these displays, yet I would never pick up a bunch of flowers to buy for my home.
I was too pragmatic. Everything had to “serve a purpose”. I reasoned with myself that if I had lived without cut flowers for this long, I could certainly live without cut flowers for another week. Thus, I saved myself the princely sum of four or five dollars a week. I would congratulate myself for avoiding temptation yet again.
Of course, if you don’t meet your needs one way, you meet them in some other way. I would make up for my lack of flowers by indulging in frivolous food. Yes, food is a necessity, I would reason, so it’s okay to spend money on food. So I would buy crackers, cookies, chips, pies, cakes and scones. I would often look inside my grocery cart and feel that I must be the child of some negligent parents who’ve gone off on vacation and left shopping to the four year-old. Never mind that I was spending a fortune on these largely unhealthy “treats”. Never mind that the unhealthy “treats” were going directly to my derriere. Never mind that sugar is about the unhealthiest thing I can eat – and I was taking in a lot of sugar.
Some time in the past year or so, I read in one of Dr. Andrew Weil’s weekly health reports that he recommends buying flowers for yourself at least once a week. (You can look up Dr. Weil on line – He’s a very wise health adviser, in my opinion). I had never heard of a doctor recommending flower therapy before (not that he called it “flower therapy”). I brushed off the advice as if it were an annoying gnat. But the idea kept flying back in my face every time I went past the flower display at Trader Joe’s.
One day there was a gorgeous display of purplish-blue irises. I tried to walk past them, but they beckoned me back. I stood and admired them for a couple of minutes. They were so fresh, so happy looking. I checked the price; $4.99. I did a mental calculation. I could spare $4.99 this week. I reached out and grasped the gorgeous flowers holding them briefly to my heart before carefully placing them in the top section of the cart. I imagined them at home in the center of our kitchen table drenched in diffused sunlight.
The flowers did not disappoint. It was like having our own living Van Gogh right in our own home. They lasted about five days, and I was very sad when they drooped beyond redemption, but then, I reasoned, there would be more irises. And there were – the next time I went to the store. And for the last couple of weeks there have been daffodils! Daffodils, the most humble of the spring flowers, are also the most cheerful. They are blindingly bright yellow and give off a faint but sweet fragrance. They have temporarily replaced the irises on our table. If you have not had breakfast with a bunch of daffodils, you have not had breakfast!
Oh, I still indulge in those “treats” – maybe a little bit less, though. The flowers fill a place in my heart that cannot be filled by any food.
I advise you to allow yourself this small indulgence when you can, whether you prefer calla lilies, roses, or mums. I don’t know what it does precisely for the immune system or the lymphatic system or the digestive system, but I have a feeling it does something powerful for the mind and the spirit.
© 2005, Robin Munson