A Silver Lining of Peonies

We hardly ever get to see the first peony bloom. In the fifteen or so years after planting this specimen in the front yard, we’ve only ever been around to see it open up once or twice. Usually we are on vacation in Ogunquit, Maine, when the peony parade begins. It happens like clockwork on Memorial Day weekend, no matter what kind of winter we’ve had, and no matter how screwy the rest of the seasonal line-up is behaving. We were scheduled to be in Maine again this year, but Andy’s Dad was in the hospital and not doing well, so we had to stay home. This is the consolation prize. The silver lining. And it was the best decision anyway, because time with loved ones is more valuable than anything else.

Had we gone, we would have missed out on all this beauty. I find their fragrance most potent when they first open. It’s pretty powerful at any point, but that first whiff after a whole year of being away from the authentic scent of peonies is a soul-enriching experience.

It is the scent of promise ~ the promise of summer.

It is the scent of memory ~ the memory of my childhood. A neighbor’s bed of peonies behind a chain link fence. The Ko garden filled with nodding peony heads after a heavy rain. Our living room scented with a bouquet in the cool stillness of early afternoon.

It is the scent of happiness ~ the happiness of holding a white peony to my nose in the Boston Public Garden and smiling on a sunny, perfect day.

For now, it is the scent of the present. We will return to Ogunquit this summer. At this moment, our hearts are here, and even in the rain the peonies are blooming.

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