Friday, July 27, 2007

"Hockey Puck" Season

July is one of my least favorite months. Humid, hot weather and a fading garden that I need to water sometimes twice a day take the joy out of life sometimes. but the hollyhocks are always at their loveliest in late July.

The "hockey pucks," as Keith calls them, joyfully and abundantly reseed themselves each year along our front fence. Hollyhocks are biennials which means that they require two growing seasons to bloom fully. The first season they remain green and close to the earth, hiding discreetly behind cosmos and herbs in my flower beds. But during their second season, they soar up to heights of six to eight feet at times, and then they bloom, starting at the bottom of the plant and slowly working their way up until finally the very tippy-tops of the tall stems are showing off their colors to the bumble bees. My garden hosts a variety of colors, from white to pale pink to bright pink to an almost fuschia color.

Around this time of year I have to tie them to the fence for support or else they tumble over, bent in half by the weight of their blooms and the height of their stems. I crowd them together, staking them in groups so that they bunch up into bursts of bloom. Hollyhocks are such lovely, old-fashioned flowers -- they remind me of English cottage gardens and of whispered wisdom passed down, mother to daughter, through the generations. They are sentinels of holy living: held up together from drooping with heat and with burdens too much for their slender stalks, hollyhocks support each other while still blooming extravagantly.

And isn't that exactly what God calls us to do?

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