My husband has been terribly stressed lately. Part of this is because he is designing and building a house, but mostly it’s over his parents. I won’t go into the emotional impact this ordeal is taking, but it’s a doozie.
Anyway, yesterday I wanted to do something to help alleviate stress. But really, there is nothing I can do. The house is his project alone, and while I can help care for his ill parents, the stress associated with this situation goes beyond the daily tasks involved.
So – I did the only thing I could think of. I cleaned house.
Now that might seem like a frivolous thing to do in the name of “helping out”, but honestly, I believe it’s easier to handle stress if you have a welcoming home to come to at the end of the hard day. When you feel driven to simply crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head, it’s simply nicer when you are retreating from the world between crisp, clean linen. At least, this is certainly true for my homebody hubby.
So, I rolled up my sleeves and did the floors, scoured the bathrooms and vacuumed and dusted. I lit candles so the room would smell inviting ( I may not have a sense of smell, but my husband always knows what animals have been inside and/or what I’ve been cooking in any given day. His nose is keen enough to make up for my lack of sensory awareness.) I made healthy blueberry bran muffins (using the last of our handpicked blueberries from our bush last summer) And of course, I put fresh flowers on the table.
Now, this isn’t something special for me, because I always have fresh flowers on the table. Even when I was broke and living in New York, I bought flowers for my table. Sacrificed a meal to do it if I had to. I guess flowers have always been my way of feeling in control of my environment. I want pretty things, nature, around me.
Because I was busy and limited by the fluctuating availability of the flowers in our yard, I used to purchase nice bouquets of hothouse flowers from the grocery store or Sams. Not now. Now, I just go outside and pick wildflowers. This is one of my dearest pleasures living here. Suddenly, those perfect hearty flowers you can get at the store seem undesirable to me. Processed or something. The flowers that grow wild on a hillside, while less uniform, seem more natural. Delicate. Their stems are limper and they don’t last as long, thanks to the fact that they were not designed for packing and transporting and they haven’t been dyed or soaked in flower preserver. The wildflowers are less groomed, yet still they have charm. And the offering is always a surprise, determined by the weather and regional fauna cycles.
Some kind of flower blooms here in Georgia constantly from April to October. I used to think our back yard with the 250 orchids was spectacular, but it can’t compare to the earthy beauty here as all these dormant flowers that have slept the winter underground make their appearance in their own sweet time. It is so inspirational.
Anyway, once I clean, I walk the mountain and pick whatever is growing on that day. I am always surprised to discover my bouquet de jour each week. This week, I picked the last of the purple irises that grow outside of our bathroom window. We have zillions. I don’t mind cutting them because they are hidden in the back area of the cabin and as such they bloom and die un-appreciated if I don’t bring them in.(OK these technically are not wildflowers – they are bulbs, but they are bulbs that have spread wherever they want and no one has gardened them to my knowledge – so they feel like wildflowers to me). Currently we have wild daisies and yellow thingabobbies everywhere. (Let’s be honest here– I love flowers but I don’t know squat about them).
We also have poppies growing on the roadsides. When driving to feed the horses, I will sometimes pull over and start picking them right there on the side of an empty road. Poppies should be called floppies, by the way, because their stems are so weak they are a pain to arrange. But they are certainly pretty. We have a huge wild rose bush on our hillside too. I like to cut a few blooms and put them in this lovely piece of handmade pottery that our friends, the Chesleys, gave us when they visited last. It holds water and has spaces for three short stemmed flowers –the perfect thing for these short stemmed roses. Not only is it pretty, but I like how it reminds me of my dear friends. And roses have a particularily special connotation for me. They are a flower that symbolizes love (this is why they were all over my romance website – no accident ya know – red roses are special.)
Mark always makes fun of my flowers because I am bad at arranging them. I am the sort of gal who just takes fistfuls of blooms and shoves them into a vase. That does it for me. He will later take them out and rearrange them, as if my sad display offends his artistic sensibilities too awfully. Well, if that’s what you need to do, go for it, Babe. I just like the color and the way our cat sleeps under the blooms as if they inspire grand dreams of the outdoors (she is too lazy to explore it on her own).
I guess wild, unruly flowers suit me better than perfectly orchestrated collections. The fact that they are free makes them seem even more like a gift for the soul.
My house is clean. Flowers grace the rooms. But the stress is still swirls around my husband, an aura of concern as thick as Jell-O, causing him to pop Advil like it’s candy.
I want to say, “Please. Take a moment to smell the roses, Dear.” But such words sound shallow, like a surface level pep talk, to someone dealing with true troubles. All I can do is make sure there are roses within range of his nose, and hope that even if he doesn’t consciously notice them, they sooth the endless ache inside in some small measure.