On one of our recent walks I picked up a beautifully lichen encrusted twig, knowing it would appear in a vase sometime soon, and today popped back to the alleyway I mentioned in Friday’s post to pick a stem of garden escapee euphorbia to join it. Rather than detract from the yellowish highlights of the twig and the euphorbia by introducing more colour, I cut five stems of creamy white Narcissus ‘Snow Baby’, the perfect foil for the dark green leaves of the latter.
Firstly, I popped the twig and euphorbia into the vase already earmarked, another Caithness Glass one, similar to last week’s but in the ‘moss’ colourway’ and with a narrower neck. The stark effect was immediate and additional material would be…well, just completely gratuitous. Somehow the vase was solid and complete as it was, seemingly making a statement. But what to do with the narcissus? Obviously I wouldn’t just throw them out, so retrieved a matching (it may look a lighter shade, but this is due to the difference in style) Caithness vase from the shelf and popped the narcissus in, ready to display elsewhere.
Suddenly, a metaphor occurred to me, and I knew it was important to display them together: the stark first vase contained items fashioned by nature, a twig blown from a hedgerow tree, maybe decades old, covered in lichen as result of a natural process, and a stem breaking free of its own volition from a garden setting, no human intervention required. By way of contrast, the narcissi were bought as bulbs and planted by Man (well, me), nurtured and admired at all stages of growth, and fed and watered as required – but despite this intervention their fragile beauty is short lived (although as bulbs we may be lucky and see them return) and the blooms will soon fade.
We are all in the throes of something we have never experienced before as the restrictions of lockdown continue to bite, as our routines disintegrate and the fragility of the lives that we have carefully crafted is exposed, as fear for ourselves and the health of our nearest and dearest lurks. Life as we know it is unlikely ever to be the same again and there will be many unforeseen social and economic adjustments to be made. However, some things will not change – lichen and their host hedgerow trees, for example, and the countryside and natural world generally, things which can continue to bring stability to our lives. We are fortunate ourselves to be able to step out of our house into the countryside, and our daily walks leave us feeling well-grounded and a world away from COVID-19, especially when we see three different butterflies within the space of a minute (tortoiseshell, orange tipped and brimstone) as we did yesterday, the last being a first. Meanwhile, in the garden too, the freshness and fragrance and birdsong of mild spring days will also continue regardless.
Our Monday vases also bring stability and a reminder of what day of the week it is, so do join us if you can, with material found in your garden or foraged locally. They will brighten your isolation and if you would like others to share the pleasure, albeit at a distance, then leave links to and from this post.
The crystal, by the way, is serpentine, believed to be beneficial for the emotions and meditation, and to encourage art and creativity.