Thursday, September 12, 2013

in lieu of flowers

“Nature is pitiless; she never withdraws her flowers, her music, her fragrance and her sunlight, from before human cruelty or suffering. She overwhelms man by the contrast between divine beauty and social hideousness. She spares him nothing of her loveliness, neither wing or butterfly, nor song of bird; in the midst of murder, vengeance, barbarism, he must feel himself watched by holy things; he cannot escape the immense reproach of universal nature and the implacable serenity of the sky. The deformity of human laws is forced to exhibit itself naked amidst the dazzling rays of eternal beauty. Man breaks and destroys; man lays waste; man kills; but the summer remains summer; the lily remains the lily; and the star remains the star.

As though it said to man, 'Behold my work. And yours.”

- Victor Hugo

Impossible to say it better than Victor Hugo. The flowers remain. Summer is summer.

And so yesterday I decided to start bringing some flowers inside and to enjoy them before the first frost comes. It's very cold in the mornings, and you can see your breath a little when the sun first comes up.

A couple of days ago, a Facebook friend posted that his father had passed and included the obituary. At the end, it said that in lieu of flowers, his dad would have appreciated that you take out a friend for lunch, someone you hadn't seen in a while, maybe. Which I thought was just so lovely, this really brought a smile to my face, and I think it really expressed something about his personality, too, his sociable and caring character.

And although I love flowers very much, I won't see them when I'm gone. So I started to riff on this line and its possibilities, in lieu of flowers, in my notebook. Writing my own obit, I suppose, if that doesn't sound too morbid.

In lieu of flowers, 

buy a book of poetry written by someone still alive, sit outside with a cup of tea, a glass of wine, and read it out loud, or silently, by yourself, or to someone.

spend some time with a single flower. A rose maybe. Smell it, touch the petals. Really look at it. 

drink a really nice bottle of wine with someone you love.

or, Champagne. And think of what John Maynard Keynes said, "My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." Or what Dom Perignon said when he first tasted the stuff: "Come quickly! I am tasting stars!" 

take out a paint set and lay down some colours.

watch birds. Common sparrows are fine. Pigeons, too. Geese are nice. Robins.

In lieu of flowers, 

walk in the trees and watch the light fall into it.

eat an apple, a really nice big one. I hope it's crisp. 

have a long soak in the bathtub with candles, maybe some rose petals.

sit on the front stoop and watch the clouds. Have a dish of strawberry ice cream in my name. Or chocolate.

it it's winter, have a cup of hot chocolate outside for me. If it's summer, a big glass of ice water. 

if it's autumn, collect some leaves and press them in a book you love. I'd like that. 

sit and look out a window and write down what you see. Write some other things down. 

In lieu of flowers, 
I would wish for you to flower. 
I would wish for you to blossom, to open, to be beautiful.
I would wish for you to align your soul, for a time, with flowers.


  1. that is so beautiful... every picture. every word.

  2. Oh good heavens Shawna. This post is utterly exquisite. As if the photos weren't enough but what you say and what comes from within your calm soul ... a sigh may be more appropriate, one that comes like a zephyr.

    1. Ah, Diane - you're lovely and kind. Thank you.

  3. Very luvley pictures and writing...reading your blog makes me feel am in a some other world ..ofcourse surrounded by all these beutiful flowers...wonderful post :)

  4. Your poem touched me deeply. Thank you.


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