My peonies are just beginning to break through the ground. I look forward to their arrival after I cut back the dried up, tired shrub every fall. They are in my front flower beds, and the first flowers you see when you walk up to our door. Their absence is felt and noticed by me almost daily through the long, dark winters of Eastern Oregon. And then, one cold, early, spring day, I'll see it.
At first, peony starts are far from beautiful. They almost look like an alien life form. Long, skinny, red reeds with curved, claw like heads poke above the soil. I eagerly set up my supports in anticipation of what will come in a few short weeks; a shrub, that grows larger every year, heavy with blooms. Soon, tightly bound balls appear all over the plant. Patiently waiting, like little ticking bombs to pop.
They are such joyful flowers. They look like an explosion of petals. A messy head of hair, wild celebration.
"We're back; summer is here!" They seem to shout.
They perfume the air and offer up joy and beauty to the passerby who is paying attention.
They aren't perfectly shaped and velvety like a rose. Their stems are long. smooth and crooked. Sometimes, two or three are bursting off the same stem, bubbling over with joy.
They remind me of how beautiful children are in the mornings. They tumble out of bed with blurry eyes, tangled pajamas, hair rumpled, and yet, excited to greet the new day.
They remind me of a firework exploding, announcing the early days of summer.