A friend of many years told me of her sorrow and frustration at the persistence of violence and hatred. Each new rampage makes the news for a while, she mourned, but nothing changes. We go about our lives as if nothing ever will. I had no words of comfort for her, or for myself.
Later, I posted a photo of a blood lily flowering in my garden. Scadoxus multiflorus is a tropical African native. It blooms once a year near Midsummer. Each fragile flower resembles an electric filament, flaming so brightly in sunlight that the camera cannot capture true colors. Yellowing bracts begin to curl downward even as the blossom opens. It’s tender in this area, so I pot it when it goes dormant. Such ephemeral loveliness is little to set against reckless destruction.
Each spring I hunt for Jack-in-the-pulpits and Mayapples, trying to capture the perfect shot. If I miss their flowering by a few days, I have to wait another year to try again. As their habitat is given over to development, they grow scarce. Over the winter I try to monitor their sleeping places for invasive species that might crowd them out. Life and beauty are threatened even in the natural world, it seems.
United Plant Savers maintains a list of at-risk and to-watch plant species. I’ve planted some of the shade-loving ones in my woods. A few of them struggle. Black cohosh, bloodroot, trillium and echinacea flourish. This is what I nurture to stand against all hatred and bereavement: beauty that flowers and falls and rises again. It may be fragile, but it is all that we are.