Winter has finally come to Westcliffe. The last few mornings we’ve had zero degrees at dawn, and today we have flurries… flurries that we fervently hope turn into a snow soaker.
With colder below zero temperatures on the horizon, I moved four planters of knee-high geraniums from the unheated airlock into the house. But before I situated them, I cut them to the quick. I can’t tell you how painful it is to take a perfectly healthy plant and top-it. Pruning them felt like the amputation of a good friend’s arm. With every cut, I apologized.” I’m sorry, I’m sorry… If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t…”
Measuring the mayhem, I threw the cuttings in our old kitchen sink, and the mound of flowers gave me a baleful glare. They weren’t a bit grateful. I sensed their lower lips sticking out.
And then last night in between tossing and turning, I began to wonder why it is so important to annually winter-over these geraniums. They have, after all, lived a good life… a life of hand-watering, conscientious dead-heading, and Miracle-Gro. And they have lived a long life of a decade or more.
It’s not like they appreciate my preparing them for another summer out-of-doors… the sun on their faces… amongst the birds and the bees. So why do I keep them with me when it might be easier to just buy new plants at the nursery next spring?
I’ve decided that my motivation has something to do with control and continuity. As the world speeds up and change comes whether I’m ready or not… as I feel that I am running in place and being left behind, I’m looking for reassurance that I have something under my thumb. As for continuity, thanks to my care, yesterday’s geraniums will live to see another summer.
In regard to my brutal butchering, my mother’s words came to me. Prior to a spanking or forcing me to drink the cod liver oil or eat lima beans, she would say, “It’s for your own good!”
I was never far-sighted encough to appreciate my mother’s wisdon. I wonder if on some cellular level, the geraniums are smarter.