716. Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light. ~John Ruskin

The peonies bloom, white and pink.
And inside each, as in a fragrant bowl,
A swarm of tiny beetles have their conversation,
For the flower is given to them as their home.
~Czeslaw Milosz

Screen shot 2015-04-27 at 6.05.21 PM

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly, 
and there it is again —
beauty, the brave, the exemplary, 
blazing open.
~Excerpt from Mary Oliver’s
peom about peonies

My mother and her sister, my Aunt Johnnie, had a knack with peonies.  Theirs always bloomed year after year, even when they moved them around the yard even though the experts say they need to be put in the ground and left alone.  I, on the other hand, have done exactly that and yet mine only seem to bloom when that have a mind too.  And I was thrilled to see that this was the year for two of them to actually have a few blooms.  But all the rains and storms we’ve had have taken a toll on their beautiful blooms, and so I was able to get only a few pictures as you can see in my collage above.  The lighter one has the most heavenly fragrance, and it’s such a delight to go out in the morning or the late afternoon and be greeted by its sweet aroma.  Sadly it suffered more from the rain and storms, and so I blurred the outer edges a bit to cover up some of its browning spots.

Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. ~Song of Songs 4:16 ✝

28 thoughts on “716. Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light. ~John Ruskin

  1. Delightful peony collage dear Natalie!They look so happy in your hands although they didn’t get much attentiveness.Your Mum and your Aunt moved their pots around the yard and yet,they were thriving,which means that Love is more powerful than any other factors …
    The poem excerpt and the Song of Songs 4:16 ✝ reference,make your peonies more attractive!Send Warm Spring Hugs your way & Love 🙂 Doda ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love peonies Natalie. They look beautiful to me, and I can remember the fragrance from the one I had so long ago. For some reason it seemed to like the place where it was planted, and it flourished for many years, until a frustrated nephew took his pain out on my flowers, killing them all. When he realized what he had done he asked forgiveness, and it was freely given, and that meant even more than the flowers themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

      • The best part was that it turned a young man’s life around before he turned completely bad. He thought he would be screamed at for all the destruction, but was given milk and cookies and a concerned talk with a new aunt instead. A small price in the long run, even though I miss my peony. 🙂 ()

        Liked by 1 person

  3. How beautiful and how thrilled to see the blooms! I planted once before, and it bloomed only one time. I heard it had to through a cool winter in order to bloom in spring… (?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also heard Amy that they needed to have ice and/or snow on the ground. I fact one lady told me that she bought a bag of ice to put on hers if in fact it looked as though Mother Nature wasn’t going to oblige that year. She swore that it worked, and so I’ve thought about trying it before. Hugs, N 🙂 ❤


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