“Even the prettiest flower will die one day. It’s nature’s way of teaching us that nothing lasts forever.”–unknown
“Hmm . . .” I think, more than say, with a deep inhale as I yawned awake. It was a rare, cool morning–a break from the typical heat and humidity of early July. The bedroom windows were open, and I breathed in the fragrance of dewy grass, damp earth, and flowers. It was the lingering sweet floral scent that began a series of reflections regarding the significance of June and its likeness to the human life cycle.
At the time I am writing this, it is the July 4 weekend–marking, in my mind, the midpoint of summer. Once July 4 begins, it feels like the rest of summer swiftly sails by. Ah, but June. June is sanguine–full of enough bright cheer to hold old-man winter at bay. The early spring blossoms such as daffodils, crocus, and tulips have long passed. Aromatic honeysuckle begins its fading away as the summer perennials and annuals begin blooming brightly in rapid succession. July may be full of celebrations, explosive displays–all red, white, and blue–but, I adore June–modest, optimistic, June, and the colorful, unique flowers that blossom and thrive with its invitation to summer.
One morning, this past June, I was in Ritter Park to meet a friend for a walk. However, the friend was running late, so I decided to meander up the old stone steps to the rose garden. Sunshine, brilliantly glowed in its mid-morning slant, created a kaleidoscope of vivid colors, varying in texture, size, and shape. With no purpose other than to enjoy the moment, I wandered around the garden, drifting from one rose bush to the next, fascinated with all the minute differences not only among the varieties of rose bushes, but also among the flowers within the same bush. Meanwhile, a gardener attentively tended the blooms.
Examining more closely, I noticed the various insects drawn to the roses. Bees, ants, beetles, moths and butterflies, flies, and even a few mosquitoes crawled, hovered, dove, and darted–busily buzzing about the roses with purposeful missions. In one of the more isolated sections, closer to the wooded area of the park, I also observed a hummingbird dipping and diving among the various blossoms in a delightful, whirring dance of flight. As I let my gaze wander, my mind relaxed and began to make correlations with June, its flowers, and life.
“A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are beautiful in their own way . . .”–Miranda Kerr
Each flower–from the number of petals to the size of each petal, from the varying life stages of each flower to the variances of color in each blossom–whether it be a rose in the Ritter Park garden or any one of the wide variety of flowers found in resident yards and public spaces–was, and is, a unique creation. This is similar to the way each person, within the same family, or outside familial ties, is likewise a one-of-a-kind individual. Flowers go through a dormant and a growing season of varying lengths, but all bloom seasonally, until they come to an end–whatever the life end may be. So it is with June and human life.
The season of summer officially begins in June. The air is sweet and heady with the fragrance of flowers. Winds and sunshine warm the air, and rain falls with purpose. Many plants are rooting and establishing while early spring greenery and blossoms are fading away into their dormancy. Daylight reaches its apex in June, while nighttime descends to its lowest point.
Likewise, several key life events occurred and are honored in my own life each June. I graduated from Ohio University in June. Within that same month, I signed my first teaching contract, thus beginning the start of my career as an educator. Two year later, in June, I married my husband, an anniversary we have celebrated for 32 years. Ten years later, our daughter was born in June. As educators, my husband and I experience the arrival of each June as the beginning of a dormant period–an opportunity for reflection and renewal before a new school year begins in August. Births and weddings, ebbs and flows, the highs and lows, and even celebrated endings. It’s all there in June.
“All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.”–Indian Proverb
I am but one person in the garden of many: my family, my work site, my community, and so forth. All around me, younger lives are taking root, growing, and blossoming into their own personal expressions–making our collective garden more colorful and vibrant–buzzing with energy. Meanwhile, I can’t help but notice that just as the flowers of June replace spring’s early blossoms, July has taken June’s place.
Of course, one could argue that like the flowers, humans seem to be planted in dirt and threatened by weeds and all varieties of pestilence. However, when I was visiting the rose garden in June, it was the array of blossoms, in a rainbow of colors, that caught my eye, and made my heart smile. They too were planted in dirt, confronted by pests and disease, but a gardener was there watching over them just as we have the Ultimate Gardener attending to our needs.
The flowers offer their seeds and pollen to insects and birds to eat and disperse, ensuring more and different blooms for the future. Likewise, I pray that until my last petal drops, I am offering seeds of hope for others as June does for me. One day, my memories of past Junes will fade away into permanent dormancy. In the meantime, I will savor the memories made this past June, find nourishment in the full blossoming of the July summer, and, in the weeks to come, accept August as the petals of summer begin to fall away, one by one.
May there always be a June.