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Thursday, June 19, 2008

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the heart of this flower imagines

as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending

e.e. cummings, somewhere i have never travelled

I've decided that fresh cut flowers are as essential as milk and bread in this house. The supermarket where I now shop has a great selection, and I've adopted a habit of ending my weekly aisle marathon there, topping off my cart with a cellophane-wrapped bouquet. At that point, the cart is so heavily laden, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it collapsed: the daisy that broke the camel's back.

There were long stretches last year when I could only buy food for a day or two at a time. I couldn't afford to take advantage of bulk discounts because I didn't have that much money up front. This month, our supermarket chain is offering a bonus 10 per cent on prepaid grocery cards, starting at denominations of $300. That's a free $30 worth of food for every $300 you spend, a no-brainer. I would have rarely been able to take advantage of that kind of saving when I most needed it. As Leah wrote once, being poor costs money.

For much of last year, spending ten dollars a week for flowers would have been preposterous. It might as well have been ten thousand a week for diamonds. Luxury is relative.

There's nothing like hanging off the brink of disaster by your fingernails to bring that truth home. I remember one of the first times in several months we were able to go out to dinner. It was just before Christmas, and we brought the kids to an all-you-can-eat-for-under-five-dollars pizza buffet. I have rarely felt so rich. I sat there with my pizza thinking, "Wow, we're just like regular people."

I feel that way now when I toss that bouquet on top of the bread, or when my grocery trip takes half as long because I don't have to tax my math-impaired brain with keeping a running subtotal on paper as I go, or when I don't feel like cooking and can say, "let's just get some pizza." Often as not, it's a couple of bouquets from the bargain buckets from which I can pull and re-arrange the freshest blooms. I still shop the grocery specials and clip coupons religiously. The pizza is usually a five dollar to-go special. But it all feels like the height of luxury.

I know it is human nature for that feeling to fade over time. And that's okay, because maybe the scars will fade too, and I can stop waking up in a cold sweat like Scarlett O'Hara on her honeymoon, wondering will I ever feel safe.





Blogger Erika said...

I think cut flowers are an essential part of every grocery trip too. Gerberas are my favourite. Grocery chains have reduced the price so much and made picking them up on a whim so easy and the popularity of home decorating shows and cultivation of the 'home as sanctuary' since 9/11 have all made flowers much more of an everyman's 'luxury'...

12:40 PM  
Blogger The Other Laura said...

I am learning a lot about lack and plenty in my own life this year and I always appreciate seeing my own journey reflect a bit over here.

1:51 PM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

Beautiful photos, beautiful heart

8:47 PM  
Blogger Lennie Kat said...

I'm big on flowers, too, and have an on-going debate with myself as to whether I should leave them in the yard or cut them and bring them in...

A mutual friend and I are big on "starters" in the kitchen, especially. Clip a stalk or two of an herb and put in little vases. Hanging on the window with wire or sitting small and fresh on the window sill is a great, organic way to fill your room with green and beauty. It's cheap, too.
And once it roots you can replant and begin again, or give the starter to a friend :-)

8:07 AM  
Blogger lar said...

My husband and I lived on the edge for a very long time, where movie tickets were a luxury and we only ate out if someone else treated.

Now we are "safe," money-wise, and it feels better than I ever imagined. Whoever said money doesn't buy happiness never lived without it.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

The smaller cup "runneth over" much sooner and more lavishly!

My trouble is that as soon as it does, I run out and buy a bigger cup.

(shameless paraphrase of David Steindl-Rast)

3:18 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

When Bella and I went to the farmer's market the other day (a luxury in itself, IMO), Bella became enraptured by bouquets from Jody Hardin's farm, which all contained wildflowers, flowering herbs like lavender, and huge, grinning sunflowers. It was the sunflowers that captured my daughter. So I spent my last $5 on one of those bouquets. One containing a hybrid variety of pure, unadulterated yellow sunflower, called "lemon."

It was totally worth it.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Assertagirl said...

Do you grow flowers at your place? One of life's greatest pleasures is to gather a fresh bouquet from your outdoor space.

I know what you mean about pinching the pennies. It's been a lean few months here.

6:36 PM  

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