“Bloom” is a verb, but what really does a flower do?

By Maria Michael

My “one word” for 2012 has stalked me. It first appeared while I pedaled along a country road in Thailand— three red roses standing out in the fringe of roadside grass: Bloom.

But it felt a little sentimental, and I wasn’t quite settled on it. I pondered it days later in the shower and my eyes caught a glimpse of the kitschy light fixture— painted with red and gold flowers.

Till a few days ago, I hadn’t gone public with my “one word.” But I knew that when I chatted it up with Tina Francis, whom I got to meet in the flesh during her recent stopover in my city, she would ask me! I used the washroom in her hotel room, and my eyes alighted upon … a bud vase with two red carnations.

So bloom it is. (Telling Tina made it official.)

Bloom is a verb, but what really does a flower do? It does not cause its blossoming. It is an outcome of the plant’s design, a result of the nutrients and water received by its roots and the sunlight its chlorophyll soaks in and transforms into food. Bloom, then, is a visible sign of interior thriving. An unfurling, an opening, a full turning of one’s face to the sun.

Recently, I chanced upon a vintage book whose cover was smooth as river rocks, worn by the hands of time. The paper, though yellowed, was decadently thick, the pages peppered with quotations from the editors and other writers. The title: A Garland of Quiet Thoughts, selected by JE and HS (only the editors’ initials are given), copyright 1925.

Here are some of the quotes I plucked from it, which to me breathe, bloom.

“Our times of greatest pleasure are when we have won some higher peak of difficulty, trodden under foot some evil, and felt day by day so sure a growth of moral strength within us that we cannot conceive of an end of growth.”–Stofford Brooke

– “Every flower is a hint of His beauty; every grain of wheat a token of His beneficence; every atom of dust, a revelation of His power. In and through all things He is attracting our regard.” –Furness

“Cultivate the thankful spirit! It will be to thee a perpetual feast. There is, or ought to be, with us no such thing as small mercies; all are great, because the least are undeserved. Indeed, a really thankful heart will extract motive for gratitude from everything, making the most of even scanty blessings.”–JR Macduff

– “Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity. Children love them; quiet, tender, contented ordinary people love them as they grow; they are the cottager’s treasure; and in the crowded town mark, as with a little broken fragment of rainbow, the windows of the workers in whose hearts rest the covenant of peace.” –Ruskin

“We shall one day forget all about duty, and do everything from the love of the loveliness of it, the satisfaction of the rightness of it.” –George MacDonald

– “You may not be able to leave your children a great inheritance, but day by day you are weaving coats for them which they will wear through all eternity.” –TL Cuyler

“Begin with a generous heart. Think how you can serve others. Then you shall find resources grow. Your own portion shall not be left desolate. Strength shall be shed through you. Do the utmost with what you have, and it shall go far enough.” –OB Frothingham