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Flowers are Food

This is not an essay about edible flowers, although I am a fan. It is about how a garden’s beauty fills us up in other ways. This sounds like a complete clichĂ©, but I’m trying to sort out my brain, so bear with me. Gardeners want to create beautiful spaces that help people appreciate the outdoors and feel connected with nature. I think many of us feel like it’s our purpose in life to work with the earth to create beauty with plants (and things to eat). But of course non-gardeners also care about beauty. Otherwise, why do people buy fresh flowers grown by someone else (that are just going to die in the vase in a few days)? Why do humans care what our clothes look like? Or what color paint is on our walls? Or what color or model of car we drive? Humans are wired to care about beauty, because consciously and unconsciously, our surroundings influence how we feel. 

So I think what I’m getting at is: Flowers are Food. Beauty is necessary nourishment. Everyone should be a gardener. We should be creating beauty. We should be growing flower seeds along with our veggie seeds. But since not everyone likes toiling in dirt, I’ll adapt this to say: Everyone should care more about their surroundings. Everyone should be creating and noticing beauty in their lives. Find your beauty.

Lately a memory keeps popping into my head about a years-ago visit to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market. Two girlfriends and I parked in Lowertown on a lovely sunny morning, feeling full of delicious ‘weekend potential’ vibes and also caffeine from our coffee treats. We started marching up N. Broadway Street towards the Market, chatting about who knows what.

Then something happened that is one of the few memories from my life that feels just-like-in-the-movies perfect. Huge pink flower petals fell out of the sky. They fluttered down on us, all around us, and all over the sidewalk, skittering around a bit in the morning breeze puffing down the narrow street between the tall red brick buildings of Lowertown. Have you ever been surprised by something so beautiful that you froze to the spot, overwhelmed, perhaps only able to whisper a feeble “What the…?” I have. 

Why do I keep thinking about that moment? My friends and I had looked at each other, laughed a bit, and continued on our way. I think a couple people behind us on the sidewalk may have said something like “Wow that was cool”. And perhaps nobody else present considered it ever again after that moment. But I have kept wondering over the years: who had dropped those flower petals? Was it someone trying to be noticed? Someone looking to spread a little joy and magic? Someone too lazy to take out their trash the traditional way? Was it an Artist above in their loft (I had toured that building during the St. Paul Art Crawl years earlier) performing social experiments on passersby below with their faded peonies? Whatever the reason, I remember the pure beauty of that moment like it was yesterday. Look for the beauty. Notice it. Create it. Be Happy.


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