Does Love Come Late in the Season?

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Mother Nature is toying with me, reminding me that even when it seems too late in Life’s seasons for some things, some things have a way of blooming unexpectedly, long past when I thought they would.   And some things I thought were lost…return.

As I write this, we are into the last week of August, and I find myself surprised once again.  Maybe this is Nature’s way of telling me not to be surprised at what may once again flourish in my life.

Almost fourteen months ago, I turned my back on my garden, not willing to put time or effort into it while I waited for a contractor to come back and repair the damage he’d done to my home.  It seemed little use to sweat over efforts in the garden when contractors would only come in and level everything and it would all be for nothing.  So I watched Autumn overtake my garden and Winter reduce it to brown, and then in Spring, still waiting for contractors to come and level my gardens while they repaired other damage, I noticed a pale fringe of blue in the rose garden.  Not roses but some long-forgotten plant, something I barely remembered, had come back, and over Summer, one or two small sprigs of plumbago overtook my rose garden and turned it into a field of blue beneath the pink roses, embracing their roots, cushioning their petals.

I marveled throughout Summer.  I’d given up on my garden, but it had not given up on me.

During the last week of April and the first week of May when the gardenias bloom here, I watched them flourish in my neighbors’ yards, in my own, and on my sunrise miles.  I stopped every day by the lake for a deep breath of them, sucking in their fragrance, closing my eyes and relishing the feeling of “home,” of romance, of the South.

The gardenias bloomed for the whole month of May, much longer than the typical one to two weeks here, and finally by early June had faded to a handful of brown-stained blooms.    And then they were gone.

The crepe myrtles bloomed in June and in July, throughout the month of August, still blooming now.   Much longer than usual.  I noticed this just last week when I was out for my sunrise miles and to my right was a row of deep pink and deep lavender crepe myrtles as vivid as they’d been in their youth…and to the left, the gardenias were blooming again.

This is something I have never seen in the twenty years of living in this place.  The gardenias have always been gone by mid-May, but late August?  To start blooming and blooming again?

All Nature seemed to be shouting my name, telling me to look, to pay attention, to understand that the season I thought was gone not only still lingers but births something fresh and sweetly fragrant and most of all unexpected.

“Watch!” Nature seemed to say to me.  “Pay attention!  Things are happening that you don’t even know.”

And so tonight, having missed my sunrise miles because I worked all day and kicked myself more than once for not walking and sprinting at dawn, I decided to turn them into sunset miles to enjoy the cool of the day, if there is such a thing in Florida Summer.

I walked out the front door and spied a neighbor I don’t much like very near my front yard.  I didn’t want seeing him to spoil my good mood–this is the neighbor who builds up his property so the water doesn’t stand on it…and drains onto mine.   I wasn’t in the mood to see him or deal with him in any way.  I needed my time to commune with Nature on these sunset miles to plan for the paper I’m writing tonight, to think about tomorrow and the people I’ll say goodbye to when I meet them for lunch.  I wanted time alone, so instead of heading for the jogging trails by way of the front yard, I made a fast right and headed into my own back yard where there is a discreet passage to the trails, devoid of neighbors.

That’s when I saw it, this little gift from Mother Nature, the thing that brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes, and seemed to sing to me, “Listen, Lorna, listen!”

The bank of azaleas across the back garden is almost six feet tall and twelve to fifteen feet across.  Tonight in the golden hour, in this last one-directional silvery-golden sunbeams of lights, I saw a shimmer of white across the top of the azaleas.  I did a double-take.  It looked at first as if someone had thrown a long, bright bridal veil across the entire width of the hedge.

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I took a few steps closer, convinced at first that it was a trick of light.  Late afternoon sunbeams speckling the uppermost azalea leaves?   I shielded my eyes from the sun, and that’s when it came into focus.

The scene was straight out of a Tarot card that my friend, Maggie Shayne, showed to me  ten years ago last month.  I had forgotten my cards to read for her, as I’d promised, when we met up at a Romantic Times convention in Daytona Beach, so she suggested I use her cards and read intuitively, the first time I’d ever done that.  After I read for her, fumbling but surprised that I had actually had some intuition, she read for me.  I’m sure she won’t remember that reading, but I do.  Now.

I had forgotten about it until tonight, but what I remember most were two cards I’d never seen before.  First was the card that talked about building my “body of work,” about being hopelessly in love with the creative projects ahead of me and indulging myself in the joy of creating.  About getting to THAT place.

And then the other card was a woman in the forest, flowers and hedges around her, and in the trees above her, white flowering vines hanging across above and all around her.

“It’s like a wedding reception,” I remember Maggie saying.  “In the spring.  It’s new relationships and putting plans in place and being so perfectly happy with everything after you’ve gotten to that place of being happy with the things that you’re creating.”

That’s not a direct quote from Maggie but I do remember enough of her words to paraphrase it well.

I also remember now that she described the man who was to come into my life.  I remember the description exactly.  I remember at the time–and perhaps this is why I haven’t though much in years about that evening when we sat cross-legged on the hotel room floor, drinking wine and reading Tarot cards–that her description was nothing at all like that of the man I was dating.  Nor has description been anything at all like any man I’ve ever dated.

As I blinked at the thick, shimmering veil of white flowers across the width of the azalea hedge, I couldn’t help but remember the scene on that Tarot card.  It was as if Nature wanted me to remember that at this particular moment.

Then I stopped myself.  Wait a minute, I thought.  This is the last week of August.  This white clematis vine, a little, tiny vine that’s seldom been more than a few threads in the twenty years since I planted it, always blooms the first few days of August and then fades quickly.  When Hurricane Erin came through on August 3rd, 1995, it was tall enough then that the wind caused it to loosen from its trellis and it fell atop a toppled pine that had bisected my yard.   It’s always bloomed only that first week of August, and sometimes does not bloom at all.

I’ve seldom seen it over the last few years.  It’s been about as scarce as real romance in my life or at least romance with men who were really what they said they were.  It was almost as if the vine had decided that growing and blooming were too much effort.   And yet, here it is, something I’d thought was gone from my life has come back, flourishing, broader and plusher and more beautiful than ever.

“Listen, Lorna, listen,” it sings to me.  “It’s not too late in the season for Love to find you again.”

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