When Iris Eyes Are Smiling

Up until this year, the snowiest winter in Boston history was 1995-1996. I was living there during that dismal winter, and it was trying to say the least. I think most of the snow that year came in March, with a few bad storms even coming in April. I still remember one of the last storms that came – it started snowing when I was leaving campus and heading into the city, and as it started to come down heavier and heavier I almost started crying right there. It was just too much.

At the end of my wit and sanity, I sought out an outlet where I’d find some hint of spring, some desperate grab at salvation in the midst of dirty snow and winter depression. I found it at the New England Flower Show. Back then it was held in some cavernous convention center on the Red Line (which was also in relatively consistent service that year). I woke up early on a Saturday and made my way through the cold into the flower show, and from the moment I entered and saw the bright sunny blossoms of a pot of narcissus, my heart felt instantly at ease.

The scent of flowers and earth – the smell of life and warmth – immediately calmed the restless winter in my heart. Great swaths of muscari and tulips and iris colored the winding paths, while arching birch branches shaded certain nooks. Near the entrance was an enclosed circular garden room, where a kentia palm elegantly arched over a sumptuous reading chair, and ferns swayed gently in the lightest breezes produced by hurried passers-by. I took my time walking through the displays, pausing to inhale the various scents, examining the scenes both as a whole, and by each individual strand of moss or blade of grass. The sight of all the greenery had a way of healing the hurt of that long winter.

We do what we have to do to survive.

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