It's Not Always Roses

Not every place has roses, but every place has flowers. 

During one of my darker weeks in Hanoi, I remembered a conversation I had last summer with Demetria Provatas, whose house I stayed at on Lopez Island, Washington. I confessed that the lack of garden flowers would not only disappoint, but make it impossible to continue my flower series, "Garden Variety". 

"There's nothing like this," I said as I motioned to her lawn, which was teeming with butterflies and still sparkled with dew. 

"You can find beauty anywhere, even in the cracks," she said. She smiled. We were drunk on a perfume of wild summer roses and salt air. 

When I arrived, I saw women selling flowers in the streets, but I never saw flowers uncut, rooted in a garden 

So one day, I went for a walk, and rather than looking down at the cracks, I looked up. A riot of reds exploded a few feet above me. Farther down the street, a confetti of fragrant, yellow-tipped plumeria flowers blanketed the sidewalk, and later on, during a run with my husband, tiny white blooms on an aging citrus tree suddenly intoxicated us. We stopped to take it in. It smells like Florida, we laughed. The scent was our childhood. 

Contessa reminds us of a few things: that scent connects us to our memories, that sometimes we have to open our eyes towards a new direction, and that you can only do these this when you stop and take a deep breath. 

ContessaMary Warner