“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

My relationship with peonies is complicated.

I don’t see them as much in Arkansas as I did as a child in New York.  I don’t know enough about gardening to know if there is a horticultural reason for this, or if it’s just the vagaries of regional preference.

It has been gray here.  July was a month of record rainfall in Arkansas, and we have been under overcast skies for much of the summer.  Perhaps it is because the quality of light reminds me so much of home that I pulled out my pictures of my trip to New York in May to cheer me up.  I missed most of the lilacs, but the peonies had started to bloom in Seneca Park, and the inevitable ant invasion had not discovered them yet.    For anyone who knows about peonies, you know that they are irresistible to ants, who swarm the sugary buds in profusion.

For this reason, I have loved peonies from a distance, and have never mustered the courage to actually plant them.  As a child I cautiously positioned myself downwind of my neighbors blooms, to catch the breeze-borne heavy floral scent, almost fruitlike in its sweetness.  I could never muster the fortitude to put my nose to the blooms, or, heaven forbid, to put my fingers in crawly danger to actually pick a bouquet.   I accepted preoffered bunches gingerly, waiting anxiously until the donor was blissfully out of sight before I inspected them diligently for ants.  My skin crawls a tiny bit even now just thinking about it.

I am not a person who shys away from the messiness of life.  Rewards often take risk.  There are always ants in our metaphorical garden.

But I would prefer not to have them in my metaphorical kitchen,  if you know what I mean.

Sometimes it’s okay to appreciate beauty from a little distance downwind.

August 12th, 2009 at 3:34 pm
2 Responses to “Remedy for a gray day”
  1. 1
    Kat Says:

    I share the issue about ants. They creep me out. I am not allergic to fire ants like most people, but I am allergic to the little black ants, and there’s nothing that creeps me out more than seeing an ant in any place where I plan to sleep or eat.

    Marigolds repell ants and other insects. I wonder if they could be grown side-by-side with peonies to reduce the ant factor.

  2. 2
    Deirdre Says:

    Bugs have a habit of ruining beautiful flower moments for me. shudder.