Wild Lovers

Recently, my friend, Andi asked me, “What’s your favorite flower?” Daffodils came to mind, as they were a childhood treasure. But that wasn’t the answer. My love for a specific flower has grown more complex over the years as I have traveled through different landscapes. New flowers have impressed me, and I no longer see a flower from the outside only. I have found unique qualities to love from the inside. For example, I feel a certain empathy towards flowers such as scarlet penstemon. These tough tubular blossoms can make their home in gravel or rock. Like me, they need the sun and don’t like crowds. I had to think long and hard to answer Andi’s question.

My mother planted flowers in the back yard of my childhood home in Southern California. The mild winters and warm weather kept almost any flower in perennial bloom. Along the house and fences, my mother grew roses, geraniums and carnations. If I smell these flowers today, my mind immediately time-travels to the warm sunny days of my youth.

My two sisters and I made perfumes. Father smoked cigars, and sometimes, these cigars were encased in glass tubes. We squished rose and geranium petals with our fingers. Pushed the petals deep into the glass. Added drops of water and leaves. We gave our tubes a vigorous shaking, twisted off the lid, and sniffed. We worked our potions until the fragrance was just right: something that smelled like green tea and ripe fruit. After our day’s work, red, white and pink carnations were tempting treats. We pulled off the blossoms, sucked sweet honey from the base.

Although I loved all the flowers in my mother’s garden, daffodils were different. My mother planted the brown bulbs in the fall and told us that, come spring, flowers would bloom. And even though I knew they would come, the first daffodils of each spring were pure delight as the brilliant yellow flowers popped all around our home.

Years later, when I lived in the high desert, our daffodils pushed through the snow. Yellow against a sea of white. I still feel a thrill at the sight of daffodils in the spring. They keep the time, tell me the seasons: soon there will be longer days and warmer nights.

blupine and golden poppies on hillsideIn my thirties, I came to love wild flowers. Who knew so many flowers existed between 7,000 and 10,000 feet? As a back-country guide in the Sierra Nevada, the mountains were my backyard, and the flowers along the trails were as intimate as those my mother had planted in her garden.

In moist meadows, pink shooting stars blazed with neon color. Up close, the deep-pink blossoms nodded; bright yellow covered their base. I’d risk swarms of mosquitos or falls into the mud to capture their splendor. I still have an old photo of a meadow of shooting stars, but the picture doesn’t capture the whole story. To get close to the flowers, I had to wade deep into the soft, wet ground. My boots sank slowly into the mud as a horde of stinging mosquitos covered my body. I snapped the picture quickly, tried to make a run for it, but due to the heavy mud, I moved in a slow-motion trudge, my hands wildly slapping at insects. It was worth the effort, though, as each year in the grey of winter, I would open my photo books, see the flowers of summer and remember that sunshine and flowers would soon return.

But a favorite? For a while, it was harlequin lupine. This flower is a cluster of color: pink pea-pod-petals circle pods of yellow and white. Later, it was the dainty globe lily: an almost translucent, silky-white, fairy-lantern. In early spring, there was the joy of finding blood-red snow plants poking though a snow-dusted forest floor. In summer, the minty smell of pennyroyal filled the air long before the plant came into view.

I love spotted tiger lilies, crimson columbine, fire weed and fox glove, pine-drops and poppies. I can’t choose a favorite. When I see Andi, I’ll tell her I like my flowers wild. I am the lover who pours her affection on the one I’m with in the moment.


Kandi MaxwellKandi Maxwell lives and writes in the Sierra foothills of Northern California. She walks through forests, soaks and splashes in rivers, lakes and hot springs, and bends frequently in downward dog. She is a retired high school English teacher. Her work has been published in Fair Haven Literary Review, KYSO Flash, The Raven’s Perch, One in Four, Foliate Oak, and others. Her work has been nominated for The Best American Essay series.

Photo of spring lupine and California Poppy wildflowers with White Oak trees, Northern California Sierra foothills, by Terrance Emerson

Fertile Earth

I.
In the corner of the garden
we found the perfect spot
for the damask rose “Celsiana,”
but when we dug, we hit a boulder.
I said, “Let’s plant somewhere else.”
“No,” she disagreed, “we’ll find a way.”

For two hours we dug around it,
but couldn’t get it to budge.
With a plank, we made a lever.
The two of us stood on one end
and bounced up and down
and finally felt it dislodge.

It took two planks and the two of us
working all day to dig it out:
there, at last, unearthed,
a rock the size of a coffee table.
Two women, one aging and one old–
we gaped in awe of what we’d done.

II.
With patience, forbearance, and a stubborn will,
almost any obstacle can be made to yield.

She taught me to trust myself to find a way;
she taught me to look for it close at hand.

In the rock’s place grows the sturdy rose,
whose soft pink blooms and golden stamens
delight our summers.

The rock remained, too big to take away;
transplanted ferns now shelter in its shade.

III.
All afternoon before t.he rain,
I clipped the dead hostas’ withered stems
and raked out piles of dead leaves from the beds.

Wet and chill, as if a cloud had sunk to earth,
in the strangely muffled air of November,
I listened to the chirp of a hawk circling overhead.

My body bent to my labors; my mind wandered free.
Make room! More room!

By Anne Whitehouse

flower garden with a rock


Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower, her second from Dos Madres Press (2016). Her novel Fall Love has just been published in Spanish translation as Amigos y Amantes. 2016 honors include Songs of Eretz’s, RhymeOn!’s, Common Good Books’, and Fitzgerald Museum’s poetry prizes. Visit her at AnneWhitehouse.com.

Photo of garden and boulder by uulgaa.

The Sweet Scent

Vivid memories
Of days long past
Senses do not forget
The sweet smell
Of lilacs in full bloom
Warm spring days
Amethyst jewels sparkle
Atop jade green leaves
Surrounded by vibrancy and joy
My father’s favorite flower
Forever in my heart

By Ann Christine Tabaka

woman near  blossoming  lilac


Tabaka Author PhotoAnn Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies. Chris has been selected as the resident Haiku poet for Stanzaic Stylings.

Photo of lilac by Galyna Tymonko

A Labor of Love

Towards late October
It is oft’ times said
Is the time to put
The garden to bed

I cut back each plant
With love and care
The sun shines bright
A chill fills the air

I remember the beauty
And joy that each gave
To hummingbirds and bees
Each memory I save

Soon will come the winter
With its blanket of snow
To cover the barren roots
So spring time they will grow

A meditative state
Of peace and calm is mine
As I carefully trim back
Each stalk, stem and vine

A labor of love
I tuck them in tight
Preparing them for
Their long winter plight

By Ann Christine Tabaka

woman autumn gardening


Tabaka Author PhotoAnn Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies. Chris has been selected as the resident Haiku poet for Stanzaic Stylings.

Photo of garden by Jean-Marie Guyon

Hummingbird

I stand on air
peer through the window
You see me,
come at my bidding.
Fill my feeder.
Turn on the hose.
I bob up and down
in front of a waterfall
that spills from a green cord.
I lift and pause,
we stand eye to eye.
I beat quietude
with buzz of silver wings.
I’m so small
no breeze touches your face.
I disappear like magic.

By Ingrid Bruck

Hummingbird at purple flower


Ingrid Bruck writes nature inspired poetry and grows wildflowers. She’s a retired library director living in the Amish country of Pennsylvania that inhabits her writing. Her favorite forms are haiku, haibun, senryu, rengay and short poems. Some published work appears in Mataroyshka Poetry, Unbroken Journal, Halcyon Days, Quatrain.Fish, Under the Basho, The Song Is and Leaves of Ink. Visit her poetry website: ingridbruck.com. Photo by the author.