Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7: Bowl of Peonies

Before the recent rains began, my peonies were little round balls of buds. Apparently the deluge inspired them to burst into full bloom. The top-heavy plants were then pounded by rain. This morning the stems and blossoms were splayed on the lawn.

After work I was finally able to mow the back yard and pay my garden a little attention. The first thing I did was string up the peony plants. So now they're upright once more, releasing the day lilies that were crushed beneath those thick stems and giant white flowers. To help keep them up, I trimmed some of the damp, frowsy blooms to display in a glass bowl as a table centerpiece. Their heady scent released by the rain and their pink-fringed frilly petals make them a most romantic addition to my kitchen decor.

Interestingly, the peony is a very common masculine tattoo image in Japan, associated with gamblers and warriors. The Chinese regarded the peony as an important symbol of wealth and prosperity, and it was the national flower of China at the turn of the last century. In Catholic European tradition, the peony is one of the many symbols of the Virgin Mary. After watching several episodes last night of "The Tudors," however, I'm thinking of them more as blushing young ladies-in-waiting, skirts and petticoats akimbo. Yet my haiku is more affected, I think, by the unexpected passing this morning of a friend of my parents.

My bowl o' peonies. Additional blossoms visible out the window in the background.

Dancing girls and kings,
peony petals--these too
must all pass away.

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