Sunday, March 6, 2011

A May Sarton Legacy

I’m an alternative medicine kind of gal, and so yesterday morning, sick with bronchitis, a sore throat that felt as if someone had run the tines of a metal rake down raw flesh, a headache, I drove to the supermarket. I needed lemons, fresh ginger root, and honey to make my soothing, healing tea. Inside the door, I paused as always, to survey the flowers, spring bouquets with dyed carnations, a sprig of freesia, a single sad looking rose. Then, I saw buckets of tulips, pink, yellow, purple, chose purple.

I’ve been reading May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude, and I’m sure it was May and her book that prompted me without hesitation to buy those tulips and carry them home. May always had fresh flowers inside, Winter, summer, spring and fall, she describes trips to the post office to pick up the mail, then afterwards, stopping to buy flowers. For her, fresh flowers were a meditation. On Thursday, January 30th, 1975, Sarton wrote: “And once more I am in a kind of ecstasy at the beauty of light through petals… how each vein is seen in relief, the structure suddenly visible.”

And so this morning, sitting up in bed, after having breakfast, I am sipping from a mug of lemon, ginger and honey tea, looking at a vase of purple tulips on my bedside table. Earlier, I cut the stems, cut away yellow leaves, gave them fresh water. Their color seems brighter as if each blossom has absorbed light. My bed faces wide sliding glass doors, and although today the sky is pearly gray, light here at the edge of sea is luminous. From my bed, I see the deck’s horizontal railing and beyond the deck the ocean, waves rising, curling, breaking. This is my front yard, the foaming sea.

I watch a single flower, the egg shape of the bloom, white at its base, then notice small green veins. The attachment of stem and flower seems fluid, fragile and strong at the same time. I share May Sarton’s love of flowers, her love of the sea. She is a woman I might have met. I moved into her neighborhood, used to run along the road, then up her driveway as far as I dared, hoping to see her out among her daffodils, but Sarton was ill, then, no longer outside in her garden. This morning, I hold her book in my hand, watch the sea, watch my tulip. Musing, I sip my healing lemon, ginger and honey tea.