Of Flowers and Memories

Yesterday I posted a picture on Instagram which I then shared on our Beyond Moi Facebook page, asking the simple question: what is your favorite flower?  The image I shared was of our youngest, Sugarbaby, holding in each of her little fists a miniature daisy, my favorite flower.  Here is that image:

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In reading through everyone’s answer to my question, I realized that my two favorite flowers (miniature daisies that only grow in France, and Portland, and apparently everywhere else in the world, especially the UK, AND lilacs) are special to me because they are a part of so many of my childhood memories. Which prompts the question: How much have my tastes actually changed since I was a kid? My taste of food aside, which has seen a considerable amount of change, let’s consider flowers: do I like any flowers today that I didn’t even know about as a child? And are any of them flowers that I love just because of their aesthetic value (because they’re stunningly beautiful, or something about their shape/visual composition speaks to me), or does there have to be a memory attached to them for me to value them?

For instance, I love amaryllis. We did have a couple at home when I was a kid and I always thought they were kind of boring, spending much of the year as a giant bulb. But they were a part of our backyard in Houston for years, and I tended to that amaryllis patch and watched it expand year after year. It was the background for our family’s outside play. Their large, beautiful red blooms would adorn our dinner table. I now love amaryllis.

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And gerber daisies. Never really noticed them before except occasionally at the store where I thought they looked like someone dumped packets of koolaid powder in the water that was used to water the poor daisies. BUT, when Sugarbaby was born, Jessica felt like it was the perfect flower to celebrate the new arrival, and now they are special to me.

No significant childhood memories for either of those flowers, but still definitely tied to cherished memories created as an adult.

Even now I struggle to think of a single flower that I like that doesn’t have a memory tied to it. I wonder: do we like any flowers just because they are amazing on their own? Or is there always a story? A memory to provide a background for them to stand against? Or vice-versa…

I asked my family over lunch today to tell me what their favorite flower is, if they have one, and why.  It was interesting to note that the 11, 6, and 4 yr olds that answered all responded with a particular favorite flower, and gave as a reason why simply that they were beautiful.  So did Storyteller, our 13 yr old, but she then followed it up with “actually, I really like snapdragons, because they remind me of some memories from when I was younger.”  Jessica (aka: mom of these awesome kids), doesn’t really have a favorite flower, loves flowers in general, and she said that it probably depends on her mood.

Is there a developmental thing going on here, where our younger kids just aren’t mature enough to be able to connect memories to objects like flowers?  Or is it just my personality to want to attribute meaning to everything in order for it to have value?  Or are things like flowers just more meaningful to me when they have a memory associated with them?

I don’t have an answer to these questions, and I recognize that these kinds of questions aren’t going to change the world.  But I know this: flowers remind us that there is beauty in the world, whether in the present moment when snow makes way for budding new life, or as a reminder of things that used to be, when sitting on soft grass in the speckled shade of a tree and creating daisy-chains represented all the relaxation and delight you could wish for.  And occasionally eating their delicate white petals.

What’s your favorite flower, and why?

~ Jeremy

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