At this time of year, I drink in sunlight like it is my lifeblood.
If the sun comes out, then I move towards the light like an etiolated plant.
Which I suppose is instinct. At this time of year it is hard to get our daily requirement of Vitamin D. Like Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’ here, who I have planted in the shade of a house wall. The shade makes her a more moody purple.
But in the light she becomes vibrant magenta. Look at her crimson veining, darkening to black near the calyx.
I am tantalised by this black hole at her centre. I want to poke my little finger into it, or put my eye to it so see what it is like inside. Which makes me think that darkness is important. It makes us curious.
I found it difficult to photograph in this low sunlight. I wanted to capture the sparkle of it.
The glittery magic.
In my efforts to catch the light, I was sometimes dazzled, and couldn’t see the image I was trying to create. I had to point the camera, and hope for the best. It was only when I went into the shade that I could see the image.
I was trying to capture light, but I got darkness too.
It is as if they need one another, to balance one another out.
This made me think about life. How the dark times we go through help us to appreciate the moments of lightness.
After illness or injury, we appreciate health. After being held back, we appreciate independence. After great loss, we appreciate simple pleasures.
The droplets of dew on the hairs of a stem.
The paint splashes on the back of a fading rose.
The jiggle of penstemon bells on a stem.
The weight of a rose held in your hand.
I have two clumps of Geranium psilostemon in the rose garden. They were both starting to look raggedy by the end of July: there were more seedheads than flower. I carried out an experiment, cutting one back, and leaving the other alone. The clump that was not cut back has stopped flowering, and is looking dusty and sad. The clump that was cut back hard is now spritely and fresh with re-growth. It is full of flower. It is drinking in the sunlight.
The geranium which was cut back is looking out for new adventures.
Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ needed no cutting back, being the Duracell bunny of the geranium world.
‘Anne Thomson’ is a sterile hybrid, so doesn’t produce seed. She can put all her energy into more and more flowers. But don’t think her life is without excitement or challenge. In order to make more plants, I will have to dig up a clump and splice the crown into pieces. After this death-defying adventure, each piece will be replanted. To fill the world with more ‘Anne’.
Everyone has their challenges. Some are more visible than others.
Rosa ‘William Shakespeare 2000’ produces gorgeous flowers but his growth habit is painful. His stems are too long for his body. They cross over and their thorns cause self-harm and they get weighed down with the weight of flower.
Who knows what agony this ballerina had to go through in bud? Those petals must have been crushed. Imagine the feeling of release on bursting out from those guard petals.
I’m not quite sure what Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’s personal challenges are. She keeps them well hidden. But that is not to say there are none. Her namesake had enough light and dark to fill several lifetimes.
If you feel damaged, or raw, know that it will not last forever. There is darkness, and then there is light. That is the cycle of life. This too will pass.
Once we are back out in the light, we can appreciate the darkness, because it made us what we are. We wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else, but we survived, and are here to tell the tale. We are more than we were because of it.
What do you think? Are you stronger for the challenges you have overcome? Would you swop? Do you hide your scars or wear them for others to see?
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