Two bouquets of dried flowers lay where they’d been tossed upon the coffee table, beside a pot of living plants. Begonias actually, stretching on skinny stems toward the southern window, where a cloudless Colorado blue sky promised leaf splitting sunlight later in the day.
“How do you feel, hemmed between dead roses, white as a wedding dress,” I asked the begonias.
An accent of dead pink peonies and purple delphinium suggested I find my answer within my novel called “Too Loud a Solitude” by Bohumil Hrabal.
On page 23, Hrabal paraphrased Hegel: “The only thing on earth worthy of fear is a situation that is petrified, congealed, or dying, and the only thing worthy of joy is a situation where not only the individual but also society as a whole wages a constant battle for self-justification.”
“I should think a wedding justifies cutting roses, peonies, and delphinium. They create a stunning bouquet, an ode to beauty,” I said.
The begonia said nothing.
I had bought into this tradition when I married. I carried a bouquet of sterling roses and… well, that was a distant memory. In truth, I hadn’t cared about the flowers.
Guilt made me cring and I reached for the water pitcher. The begonia appeared dry. When had I last watered her?
My Dad had been very alive in 1985, dancing a hot schottish with my mother. I cared about that. Enormously.
As for the wedding, I am quite sure I cared about three details and three details only.
First, I wanted to wear the dress my mother had sewn for herself, from French silk satin. She’d splurged on that fabric following a long, austere World War 2. Paid $100 and sewed a knockoff Dior she’d coveted in Vogue magazine. Vogue. I played bride in that durable gown.
Second, I wanted towering rings of almond Norwegian Kransekaka as my wedding cake, drizzled with loops of powdered sugar frosting. More of a cookie than cake; broken, not sliced.
Finally, I had asked friends from my Augsburg college choir to open with a Sateren piece we had sung at the start of every concert: “Lord Jesus Christ be present now…”
The rest I’d left to Mom.
Now, my daughter was planning every detail of her wedding. “NO cut flowers,” she spelled in red ink. Meaning, beware of disobeying my command. It’s my wedding.
I thought of the sage green tablecloths where we would accommodate gluten-free, vegan and carnivorous diets. I considered the mountain valley venue, where moose wandered along a brook and halved tree trunks provided seating. It was green and kind.
Why cut flowers from this environment? Flowers bore messages of grace.
She’d complained of the cost. But she wasn’t paying the bills. Had she a greater justification? My millennials had their agendas.
As was my habit, I googled, “environmental cost of cut flowers.”
Good Lord! On Valentine’s Day, 2018, flowers flown from Colombia to US cities produced 360,000 metric tons of CO2– 360,000 metric tons in one day! Many shipments were then transported across the interior of the US for thousands of miles, on gas-guzzling trucks. That was a punch in the stomach.
I read on. Floriculture workers are exposed to toxins in fertilizers, insecticides, preservatives… Children living near floriculture greenhouses in Ecuador have altered short term brain activity…. Pesticides contaminate water downstream…
I stared at the two dried bouquets carried in her cousin’s wedding: colorful, scented, a beautiful touch. Soon they would be tossed into some landfill. For the good of who, exactly? Or was it whom? I edited my inner voice, as was my habit.
Who? Whom? I exhaled the deepest of sighs. Addressing the begonia, I asked, “Would you object to local, potted plants?
The begonia said nothing.
About the Creator
Thank you for taking time to read my stuff. I love writing almost as much as I love my people. I went back to college and earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and often run on that storytelling track. Enjoy!