“Cover them! I do not wish to see them!” says George C. Scott’s Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Present.
He is speaking of the twins “Ignorance and Want” who are quickly hidden under the Ghost’s robe with the terrible reassurance: “… But they live. Oh, yes, they live.”
My use of this illustration is hyperbole. I’m talking about flowers. I’m actually talking about pansies. My experience with outside flowers is decades old – with little to commend me as a gardener – until last winter. An accident of purchase, geography, and climate allowed me to change my gardening role script from Scrooge’s to the Ghost’s.
My little treetop veranda has been host to a number of pots of flowers since we moved in almost 18 months ago. My mother, the gardener, encouraged me saying that the watering would no longer be an issue (she claims that’s where I go wrong) as the misty climate would be a boon after the awful soil and humid conditions of our home in Minnesota.
My initial July purchase of flowers were chosen for color – the group included impatiens (why I consistently choose these when their very name seems to promise failure, I’ll never know). I left them in their little pots and displayed them in a window box. They were good for about a month. I watered (too much for the climate), I pruned (beyond the appropriate spot on the stem), they yellowed, the blooms fell off, they pleaded to be done with me. In late August I tried again, purchasing sale flowers at the Home Depot Labor Day sale: Orange and Purple Pansies. I knew these little darlings were hearty in MN and didn’t curl up and die at sign of frost. They should be good here – at least until October.
The Pansies bloomed in their little pots through October, November, December, and (!) January – without my attention and because the weather is much milder here than what I was used to.
In February we had Pacific NW Snow! The pots of pansies on the patio were covered with snow. I was circumspect – this is the way of flower things: they die, right? My perennial winter mantra: ‘Cover them, I do not wish to see them.’ applied. I would clean out the boxes in May and start anew.
The snow melted, the pansies brown leaves lay flat in the pots until one day, I noticed a sprig of green standing up – and the next day another, and the next day another! Soon there was a bud and a purple flower began to open! Eventually there were orange and purple pansies blooming amid the brown and rotting leaves of the fall flowers.
The words of the Ghost applied: “They live!! Oh, Yes! They Live!!
It was a gift!
When people describe others who appear weaker, less capable, less willing than themselves as ‘pansies’, as my family was wont to do when I was small (Don’t be such a pansy!), they might consider my story and update their understanding of this flower.
You and I, all of us by virtue of being human, are buffeted by the winds of change continually. We cannot continue to look as we did last fall. Regardless of our chronological age, we bear the scars of snow and cold on our brown leaves, the scars of life on our psyche. We can however, embrace life such as it is and unfurl our purple petals anyway: we can live! We can live in hope! We can live the Pansy Life.
When Scrooge cries out for our covering, we can echo the Ghost and reply: “But we live! Oh, yes! We live.”