I think all children are born hedonists. The impuse to touch and sense, to taste and feel all of the world’s earthly delights seems natural, as we toddle around groping furniture and tearing at flowers, much to our caregiver’s chagrin. We don’t sense boundaries until they are set down for us. Some of us carry that sense tripping well into adulthood, seeking to delight the five senses to one degree or another.
When I began cooking, I latched onto the most sumptuous ingredients I could find. If one herb was good, three were better. If salty, well then there must be its complement of sweet. If rich, then richer had to be superior; I did not possess the eastern savvy of sour nor the tongue for bitter. How this affected my health many years later was a personal path that taught me many things I am still learning.
My gardens used to consist of one thing and that was food. In a four seasons climate with a very short growing season, fresh was key, and we were going to eat as much as possible while the getting was good. Decades later in a year-round growing climate, I began planting flowers, flowering shrubs and flowering trees. At flrst I thought to plant only those with a heavenly fragrance, but quickly realized nature has a little trick for pollinators: either give flowers the most extraordinary color, or give them an intoxicating scent. Rarely do those two merge together, save in the rose or carnation, and then only sometimes. And so it is that I planted for both scent and vibrant, delicious, satisfying color.
I am not a big fan of cut flowers if I can look out the window and see them surrounding me everywhere. Let them die on their own schedule. Still, I like to bring a few inside now and again, to perch on the windowsill over the sink or to dress up the dining table. At first I would stuff a vase full of ferns and flowers and the occasional ti leaf. And there is a time and place to do that still: staging a home for sale, for example. But I find a simple arrangement in my personal space to be uniquely satisfying.
As with life, simple floral designs such as the one pictured add a harmonious, peaceful touch. Too much, and I’m looking to balance not the sweet with sour, but the visual equivalent of it; what to remove so that the fullness created by the addition isn’t pulling the room this way or that. If the room feels unbalanced, so do its occupants, whether or not they are aware of it. If your surroundings feel stifling, chances are a good clearing is in order. Try taking away something. Does it feel better? Remove something else. Rearrange what remains. If you can use your gut as your barometer, you will create your own place of refuge. And isn’t that what makes a house a home?