Across the street from my house lives an elderly Greek widow. Her husband died three years ago.
But in the years before his death, she cared for him. She cooked him delicacies from her old village. She dressed him and helped him walk, her tiny frame propping up his tall lanky body as he falteringly made his way to a car. She cleaned their house, her strong arms expertly flapping out rugs and linen at the door. And every Christmas she baked her special Greek cookies, smothering them with icing sugar and popping them over to her neighbors to my son’s wide-eyed glee.
She also grew dahlias. Brightly coloured ones: scarlet red, startling pink, deep purple. Their impossibly big heads, the size of dinner plates, stood tall on delicate stalks.
But when her husband died, she stopped planting her dahlias. She continued to clean and wave to her neighbors and even distribute her Christmas cookies. But the flower bed alongside her front garden remained fallow.
And then the other day, walking past her house, I did a double take.
The dahlias are back.
Two colors this time: a fiery red-orange, and a cheeky laughing yellow. They are rising again, towards the sun, big-headed and glorious.
And in those flowers, I see my neighbour’s beautiful lesson on how to handle a fallow period:
Keep cleaning your house, be kind to your neighbors, remember Christmas, and when you’re ready, your inner Summer will return.
Welcome back, dahlias. We have missed you.
photo by badboy69 (flickr)