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It All Started With a Bulb ( part 2 of a 3)

( This is part two of a three part "Story behind the painting"  series.  I encourage you to start with the post  "Grief is Both Beautiful and Unique"  dated Jan. 25, 2023)

      It all started with a bulb.  And it bloomed into something truly specatacular - a story to pass onto future generations.

    My collector, M., was just a teenager working for the summer at the local nursery, when she decided to bring home  a Calla Lily bulb, as a simple gift for her father.

      Now when she was telling me this story while visiting my studio a couple years ago, my first thought was, "Not a Calla Lily!?"  Now let me explain my initial synical  reaction.  I am a gardener who has never met a flower she didn't like.  But there are quite a few flowers I won't plant in my garden - because in order to gain a spot in my garden you need to be a flower that thrives with minimal care ( this might be a nice way of saying I am a lazy gardener.)   Flowers that require a lot of extra care, although I adore their beauty, just don't get invited to my garden party.  Calla Lillies need to be planted in the Spring and dug up in the Fall, stored in a cool, dark storage over winter and replanted in the Spring.  Every. Single. Year.  It is not for faint of heart.

    Oh, but the exquisite beauty of the Calla Lily.

    Apparently M.'s father was not deterred by the work required.  They planted the single bulb and enjoyed it's beauty that summer.  I can only imagine how her father must have looked at that Lily and thought about how thoughtful it was of his teen to bring it home to him.  That Fall it was dug up, stored and replanted in the Spring. And so began the tradition.

     Now the funny thing about bulbs are - they multiply.  The one thoughtful gift became two, and then four and  so on.  And M.'s father wasn't the only one enjoying this gift.  So as the bulbs multiplied, the whole family began to join in with the needed yearly tasks of planting, digging up, bring them in for winter storage and replanting in the Spring.  And that's where it gets to be a spectacular thing of beauty -a lovely tradition.  There is something about working together,  sun on your back, hands in the dirt that creates both memories and bonds.  Like the beautiful tangle of roots at the bottom of the bulb, communal work intertwines our hearts with those we work beside.

     This tradition carried on for many years as the Calla Lily garden multiplied and grew and grew, until there were five hundred  bulbs.  Yes, you read that right...500!  A field of 500 Calla Lillies, planted in sweat and love and comraderie.  Imagine what a sight that must have been!

      And as this family worked together in this yearly tradition of caring for the Calla Lillies, they were all learning to love gardening and the many flowers that grew in their garden.  This love of flowers carried into each of the childrens' adulthood.  Which is why, when one of M.'s brothers passed away, her first thought had been to honor him with a floral painting.  And a year or so after that, when sadly, a second brother, too, passed away, M visited  the studio once again, seeking out the perfect floral painting to honor him.


     And now, I am honored to be painting a third painting for this family.  More on that in my next blogpost.

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