A Little Perspective from a Summer Bouquet


More than 20 years ago, I lived in a big old house in a charming town along the Connecticut River. It was my first apartment, and despite the ghastly, green carpeting and dark paneled walls, the ancient kitchen appliances and the windows that sometimes stuck, I adored it.

I was fresh out of college, working two jobs to make ends meet — and they barely met. Bills were paid with furrowed brow, grocery shopping was always a challenge, and any easy breath was a blessing.

Every morning in summer, I drove past a small farm stand where five dollars in an honor box earned you a colorful bouquet of zinnias and snapdragons carefully set out in antique Ball jars. If it was a good week, I’d allow myself the splurge.

I remember that time in my life, the feeling of being that person in that place, with the kind of affection we save for our best memories.

It is why, when a friend and I stopped at a farm stand yesterday, I could not resist the bouquet of summer flowers that called my attention. I happily tucked them into my basket with the stories of those long-ago summer mornings alive in my mind.

And then, on the way home, my car died. Dead as a door nail, Dickens would tell you.

It was right-away easy to bemoan the event. To get mired down in the Universe’s uncanny ability to select just the worst moment for these kinds of things. But as I grabbed the flowers from the back seat and hoisted myself up into the tow truck, I couldn’t help but get just a little perspective — bills get paid now, grocery shopping is a weekly event, easy breaths come most every day, and there will be flowers on the table at the end of the day.

• • •

©2013, Jen Payne

17 Responses

    1. Right. We always had a nature table in the house when my kids were young. I have oodles and boodles of nature in my place and on my porch.
      have collected heart everything for years. My heart rocks, shells and glass are my favorite collection…at least today, I am pretty flighty with my faves:>)
      Have a great day,

    2. We home schooled, but tried Waldorf for several wonderful years. Very nature-oriented, the whole classrooms were nature tables with murals painted on the walls and a tree house in the kindergarten room. You would love it as much as I did, I bet. I wanted to live there. Glad you are sharing your love of nature with the little one.

    1. Rhonda B. Longo

      We are the richest people on earth if we can appreciate our blessings. Why are we so blessed?

  1. There is nothing quite like your first place. The $10 a week grocery bill, the job or two to make ends meet, the friends and the sense of it all being fresh, new and ahead of you. Now that my girls are approaching college I find myself thinking about apartment hunting and the thrill of that time. And it isn’t just a nostalgic view, it really was exciting and fun.

  2. Altogether a lovely post, compound of nostalgia, bittersweet, hope, and deep acceptance.
    Sometime I will tell you of early married days, a one room apartment, and the “envelope system” of budgeting!

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