Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Parable of the Gardenia

Yesterday, there was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Idaho.
Probably won't even make most news feeds, but that's a pretty significant quake--bigger than the one that just rocked Utah. 
I couldn't stop thinking about it. Really? Another one? Can't the boat stop rocking for just a few days so I can recalibrate? 

Last May, my favorite grocery store closed. Without warning, signs appeared on the shelves that prices were marked down because the store only had two weeks left before closing forever.

It sounds dramatic, but I was devastated. I've lived in the same neighborhood for 25 years, and I shopped primarily at that store for 24 years. They didn't have the lowest prices, but they had friendly staff that I knew by name, they always had what I needed, I knew the store without having to think, and they had the best floral department around. I could always count on them for quick arrangements for a friend's birthday or teacher appreciation day.

Ironically, the week before I discovered the store was closing, I took a risky step in my newly discovered plant love journey, and I bought a gardenia. I fell in love with gardenias the first time I smelled one--in my corsage for my senior prom. Thanks, Jeff May, for a lifetime infatuation with the heady fragrance and fragile blooms. And ever since moving to AZ, I've tried to grow my own. Gardenias do grow outside here, and Brad has planted at least a dozen bushes, but not one ever survived.

I've seen gardenias successfully grown indoors on social media, and (if you're a plant-lover, you understand this) since you can never have too many plants, I impulsively placed a healthy gardenia in my Safeway cart that day. It was covered in baby buds, and I was certain I could get at least one to bloom.

When I found out the store was closing, that little plant became emblematic of my dedication to my favorite store. I couldn't let it fail--somehow a bit of those connections I'd made over decades of sharing shopping experiences lived on in that tiny plant.

The plant painfully dropped each bud, and with every loss, my hope diminished a little bit more until no potential blossoms remained. 

Brad told me I should get rid of the little gardenia bush because it would never blossom. But the little gardenia plant was healthy, so I kept it, mostly out of loyalty to my Safeway. I remained dedicated to watering and fertilizing and occasionally misting it, but no buds appeared.

Until February--nine months after I brought it home.

At one point, I counted ten new buds, and my hope resurfaced. Would they open this time? 

The first few yellowed then dropped, just as it had before. And my hope ebbed once more.

Just before we left for our Spring Break vacation, I checked my gardenia. The buds were getting bigger, but still no flower. I trusted it to my neighbor and left for five days. 

What happened while I was gone?
My patience and diligence and hope bloomed!

Today (two weeks later) the first two blooms have blackened and shriveled, but two more have taken their place, with one or two left to still open.

My life right now feels like those long nine months of waiting with no change in sight. Hope buds then falls off again. Things level out then something else happens. And my hope in a return to life B.Q. (Before Quarantine) moves farther away.

But it won't last forever, right?

I've adjusted to new grocery shopping experiences (I still get a little sad when I drive by the carcass of the store). I got my much anticipated flowers--and they are so much sweeter and whiter and more fragrant than if it had bloomed last May.

There's always hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment