I saw them out of the corner of my eye as I rushed through the automatic doors at Trader Joes. They were still snug buds with no hint of their showy over-sized beauty. Those were peonies and I had to have them.
As a child it was my Memorial Day duty to clip flowers from the row of peonies in the side yard and make bouquets for soldiers, friends and relatives no longer on this earth. I thought it was a rather morbid task, but I did so enjoy selecting just the right vases and ribbons, so the task was filled with more pleasure than pain. Even though the ants crawled up and down my arms as I carried the armloads of blossoms to the kitchen sink, I tried to stay focused on the positive aspect of the job.
Those bouquets were always lovely and I felt a sense of accomplishment as we left each one in remembrance and appreciation of a life lived.
As an adult, I realize what a valuable lesson my peony exercise was for me. Work involves tasks we would like to avoid but we do not get to pick and choose what part of the job we will do. Beauty is often intermingled with loss and pain. Life is transitory in nature, and like the peony blossoms it buds, blooms, withers and leaves a legacy of its own design.