Digging into the earth between the patio stones with a stick, there is a little girl in a sun-suit crouched on the ground on a blue summer morning; a morning with a tinge of humidity in the air and one which promises to become hot very soon, but not yet. The sun warms her back. Birds are in song all around her, robins hopping and hunting in the back yard, bumblebees bumbling and bouncing off the flowers in her mother’s garden. She feels the hum of the universe and hums a tune along with it. Dragonflies (“dining needles!”) are alighting and lifting off. The sound of cicadas vibrate in the air. The aroma of the grass as the dew dries, the scent of the earth as she disturbs it, the perfume of flowers on the breeze all cause her to pulse as one with the earth, feeling an awareness and joy which is not articulated, but deeply understood.
She drops the stick and wanders over to her mother’s flower bed, where she pushes her face dangerously close to some honeybees to smell the flowers. They do not bother her. She inspects the petals, feels their velvet, pulls off a leaf here and there, touches everything. And then, she pulls off a floret from the phlox, sniffs it and puts it in her mouth. It has a somewhat spicy, slightly sweet and rather pleasurable taste. She pulls off another floret and eats some more. And then more.
That child was me, and it was at that point that my mother came out the back door yelling “Stop eating the flowers!!” I suppose it was lucky for me that perennial Phlox (Phlox paniculata) happens to be an edible flower. Unless it is sprayed with pesticides, it is non-toxic to humans and pets. I just found that out now when I looked it up. I doubt my mother was aware of the possibilities that might have been. That particular day is burned into my mind and heart; that moment of total recognition and comprehension of being in harmony with the planet.
This evening, many miles and years away from that child, I was outside inspecting my garden beds. It rained steadily yesterday, and tonight there is a warm, clean breeze. The sun is lowering towards the horizon and casting a golden glow. The phlox are in full bloom and a most luminous pink. I plucked a few petals and brought them to my lips.
I could not resist.