from sky to seed


Dot-lined White Moth perched on a French marigold bloom.

Every time I pass marigolds in planters at doorsteps, they barely glance my attention.  But when I saw them in dense strings during the Indian wedding scene in Eat, Pray, Love, they struck me as the most beautiful flower anyone could possibly use in a wedding.  I loved their brightness, their cheer — so earthy, so real.  I loved the pre-Instagramesque super low-contrast, high vibrancy way the scenes were filmed.  I loved the hazy music.  If I ever get married, I vowed, we will have marigolds.

When someone suggested I companion plant marigolds in my garden to ward off insects, I happily trooped down to the garden store to buy them out.  I picked up a flat of French marigolds, lowered my naive nose to the blooms, and breathed in.


Combine mildewed newspapers left too long in your recycling bin with a washing machine long past its prime = odor de marigolds.  How does anyone use them in weddings?  Are there perfumed varieties?  Is it just the French marigolds that smell awful?  I went ahead and planted them, with my head turned aside so that I wouldn’t have to smell them.  No wonder they’re effective insect repellents — I suspect they’d be a groom repellant, too!

Erm, the would-be marigold wedding is a definite goner.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, how funny an ideal is when confronted with a reality.

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” — Oscar Wilde

But that Indian wedding in Eat, Pray, Love looked so pure and simple!

To redefine my disappointment with the realities of marigolds, I reference this lovely short story by Eugenia W. Collier, MarigoldsIt was the first literary thing I ever truly read with the experience of “deep” reading, thanks to my freshman year high school English teacher, Mr. Johnson.  I remember feverishly reading that story over and over again, trying to untangle the emotions welling up in my chest.

I was fourteen.  That was years ago, but it marked the beginning of a serious(ish) commitment to reading and writing that led me all the way through my masters program.  These days, I have twelve stuffed bookshelves to mark years of passionate impulse buying.  When I left Minnesota for Missouri a few weeks ago, I sold ten boxes of books at a garage sale until I was left with only the titles that I couldn’t bear to part with.

My reading and writing schedule is having a bit of trouble adjusting to both cohabitation and farm life, but we’re all three (me, the books, my writing) managing.  I do what I can, but I’ve been feeling out of sorts, and maybe it’s the recent moon, but I’ve also gained five pounds and . . .

“What’s worse?  Pregnancy or cancer?” I wailed to Jon.  I had typed in my symptoms into Google and those were the two most common answers that popped up.

Jon was putting on his socks to leave.  I was still in bed.  He looked at me and sighed, then pulled the iPad out of my hands to kiss me good morning and good bye.  He said, “Cancer.  Now calm your head.”

After he left, I brewed coffee that I didn’t drink, then swam a mile at the Y, came home and watched Dr. Phil (guilty pleasure) while I watered our hanging baskets.  As soon as I finish writing this, I’ll go to the garden by way of the old road, so worn there are no signs or paint to mark its track through the hollows before ending in the river valley, at the single-lane bridge.  I’ll make the turn on the quartz road that soon fades to red dirt, round the bend of trees and there it will be, that verdant green space I’ve carved out, marigolds floating above ground like golden halos.

What is it Salter says?

Luminous mornings.  The days are filled with light.

Or something like that.

“September.  It seems these luminous days will never end.” — A Sport and a Pastime

3 Responses to “Marigolds”

  1. Meg

    Lovely post, and I completely relate to ideals vs. reality. Planning my own wedding has opened so many conflicting doors about what I always thought I would have — and what we’re actually doing (because it works better, because it’s more affordable, because it’s more “us,” etc.). Also, I need to re-watch that scene in “Eat, Pray, Love”!

    • Rose

      Thanks, Meg! I think I hyper-linked to that film scene — can you let me know if it doesn’t work?


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