The Last Flower: Honoring Endings as well as Beginnings

by on December 14th, 2008
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vervaininwinter-sm.jpgThe Last Flower:
Honoring Endings as well as Beginnings

by Jesse Wolf Hardin (

Today cold descends like a curtain on the last act of the Fall play, after yesterday’s warm and raging winds stripped even the most tenacious seeds from the canyon’s stalwart plants.  Not all greenery has left us, of course.  On the north facing side of the river, giant ponderosa pines remain as brilliant as the emerald and jade tones of Summer.  And on this side of the coursing Sweet Medicine, piñon and juniper boughs blaze through even a garnish of snow, cactus use their tricks to avoid freezing and stay as succulent as ever.  Meanwhile, the young elderberries we planted finally rest their leaves and learn to take comfort in their roots, as riverside alders withdraw into themselves and the ever-green bottoms of weedy artemesia dig in with their long toes against the pull of death and the tug of Winter.

We too respond by hunkering down, centering our energies in the glowing core of our tiny warm cabins, postponing most outdoor chores while reviving domestic projects long ignored.  With several sunless days predicted, we also draw back from the busy junctures of cyberspace, putting any letter we write into the “Send Later” folder as we keep the satellite receiver turned off to slow the depletion of our stored electric power.  There is lots of news lately about the vagaries of the national economy, and we too deal with a shifting balance of resources, the ups and downs of rain barrels and the fire wood pile, the periods of saving power up for later and then spending it carefully when the clouds block the sun’s rich amperage.

It occurs to me how quick we are to celebrate the beginnings of things, from the start of relationships to the birth of a child, and yet how seldom we honor the culmination of a marriage or career that no longer serves us, the final hours of a long valued project, a friend’s natural dying or a season’s storm driven end.  There is a miracle worthy of note is the fall of dark as well as dawn’s first light, in the curling fallen leaf as much as the first bud, in not only the eruption of Spring’s new blossoms but also in the humble glory of the year’s concluding flower.

Not far from this scribe’s den, there smiles a tiny purple vervain, verdant and colorful against an increasingly gray and brown background, the surrounding scene dressed in an overcoat of cast-off foliage and bent-over branches.  In a hurry to accomplish some important task, I still had to come to halt, bend over, acknowledge and give thanks for those things past that make possible our present.  How could I not… I – a bard of nature’s forgotten songs – struck breathless by the celebratory emanations from the last of this season’s canyon flowers.

Categories: Jesse Wolf Hardin – Essays & Tales, Practicing Animá Lifeways

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