The other morning, I bundled up and went outside to my deck to enjoy some morning coffee. The temperature was a frosty 38 degrees. The morning sun was just beginning to break through the clouds. I found my mind wandering back to other cold mornings in January when my life felt somehow placed on hold following the exuberance of the holidays, and the knowledge that Spring remains elusive — away off in the distance, like a mirage flickering far off in the desert.
Each year during this transition month, as the days begin to lengthen bit by bit, I watch in anticipation for those sweet harbingers of the coming vernal equinox. The sun peaks over the horizon a tiny bit earlier in the morning, and the later afternoon dusk lingers on.
Colorful birds that had long since decamped to South America begin showing up at my feeder. The first green sprigs push their way adamantly through the mud, soon to be arrayed in glorious technicolor as crocuses and hyacinths that peek poignantly out of the icy ground. And then there are Pansies.
Growing up, the worst slur someone could hurl at a man was to call him a Pansy. And yet, I’ve often thought how misbegotten that insult really was. Truth be told, despite their delicate appearance, these spectacular flowers are anything but wimpy. In fact, they’re one of the toughest plants I know, able to thrive despite cold, snowy weather, and teasing us with a taste of what’s to come.
I did some research, and found that the name “pansy” comes from the French word pensée, which means “thought”. It was believed that Pansy petals seem to resemble a whiskered human face. The French believed that pansies could make your lover think of you. Victorians thought that if they carried a pansy, they could ensure their sweetheart’s love; pansies represented a closeted code for, “I’m thinking of you.”
As I sat there watching, the wind stirred, and the lovely pansies seemed to wave at me; their faces nodded forward as if deep in thought. “Good morning Tyra,” they seemed to be saying with their sweet faces. I’ve always loved pansies but this week, they seemed so special.
What flowers inspire you in January?
© 2019 Tyra Manning