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OPINION: Where the Flowers Bloom

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by Susan D. Auld

My garden on Wood Road in Shady Rill in Middlesex, the Vermont State House and the flowers lining the granite walkway of Christ Church Memorial Garden all serve as favorite places of greens and vibrant flowers. My legislative friend, Lixi Fortna of Warren, grew lush clematis vines on her trellis. Each season these places burst forth with a colorful message: “Welcome spring to all.” A universal message. Time passes and we move to Stuart, FL—a place bursting with flowers. These flowers are for all, no matter what place, what state or what belief. In 2006, John and I traveled across Germany to see the world soccer contests, and once again the flowers bloomed.

When I walk Osceola Street in Stuart past my favorite Kilwin’s ice cream shop, and I pass a person, I look at her straight in the eye and say, “Good Morning.” After I pass, I say “God Bless.” Or I stop my car to let a man riding to work on his bicycle pass. I nod and say to myself, “God Bless you this day.” Yet, when I walked the streets of Speyer, Gelsenkirchen, Klaffenbach or Prague, the people rushed by, determined, not looking up but down as they hurried on their way. There were no eyes to look at, no nods. The ladies, neatly dressed, were hurrying on their way, eyes down to the pavement, or the gentlemen, heads turned away. I wondered.

In Speyer, Germany we walked through the green belt to the Kaiserdom. We walked by the beer garden and on the wall crept an abundant vine—big deep-purple blossoms, divided petals, white centers—clematis hugging the lattice just the way they were at Lixi’s house in Warren. The very same.

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We boarded the train to Chemnitz and traveled to the villages where our ancestors lived. We stopped at a village and on the bank by the train tracks pastel spires poked through the spring earth pointing to the sun and blue sky. Lupines. Purple and pink lupines just the way they looked in my Middlesex garden. The very same. These flowers do not think that this is my country or that the land has passed from Nazism to communism to democracy. In Klaffenbach the lilacs bloomed. The pale lavender and the fragrance were the same as when I was a child near the shed in my yard in Barrington, RI. I never thought when I was a child smelling those deep purple blooms that somewhere in Nazi Germany the lilacs were blooming at the very same time.

The sun shone on Prague, Czech Republic in the very same way that it does in Stuart. We were among the hundreds of tourists walking the Charles Bridge over the Vlata. Weaving in and out of the cobblestone streets, we arrived at Wenceslas Square. So this was the place of history. I remember only the aftermath of WWII and have learned of the appeasement of the Nazis and the following submission of these countries through the history books. I do remember as a young mother in 1968, I watched the television in disbelief as the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. Now I was standing in Wenceslas Square and praying at the small and insignificant memorial for Jan Palach who died for his beliefs in that year—willingly by choice. Nearby red and white roses, pure white and blood-red grew in the garden at the square. The summer rose did not know Jan Palach, but this day it blooms near him. These roses were just like the roses in Rocky Point where I walk each day. The very same.

The seeds, the sun, the rain. It is all the same in Speyer, Achern, Klaffenbach, and in Prague; in Middlesex and Montpelier and Warren; in Barrington and in Stuart. Whether we are in Germany, Czech Republic, Vermont, Rhode Island or Florida; in 1941, 1968, 1980 or this very day—the flowers bloom. They do not choose the year. They do not know the fascist, the Nazi, the Communist, the president, or chancellor—they bloom and bloom through dark years and in light. To those who walk with their heads down and eyes diverted, it may have been the flowers which held the hope of a new season. With our eyes, the gifts of the season are always ours no matter what century, what war, what government. These blooms may have been hope and light to carry on through another year—the hope that lifts the soul, the face and the eyes to a new day. Perennially.