A Little Perspective from a Summer Bouquet


More than 20 years ago, I lived in a big old house in a charming town along the Connecticut River. It was my first apartment, and despite the ghastly, green carpeting and dark paneled walls, the ancient kitchen appliances and the windows that sometimes stuck, I adored it.

I was fresh out of college, working two jobs to make ends meet — and they barely met. Bills were paid with furrowed brow, grocery shopping was always a challenge, and any easy breath was a blessing.

Every morning in summer, I drove past a small farm stand where five dollars in an honor box earned you a colorful bouquet of zinnias and snapdragons carefully set out in antique Ball jars. If it was a good week, I’d allow myself the splurge.

I remember that time in my life, the feeling of being that person in that place, with the kind of affection we save for our best memories.

It is why, when a friend and I stopped at a farm stand yesterday, I could not resist the bouquet of summer flowers that called my attention. I happily tucked them into my basket with the stories of those long-ago summer mornings alive in my mind.

And then, on the way home, my car died. Dead as a door nail, Dickens would tell you.

It was right-away easy to bemoan the event. To get mired down in the Universe’s uncanny ability to select just the worst moment for these kinds of things. But as I grabbed the flowers from the back seat and hoisted myself up into the tow truck, I couldn’t help but get just a little perspective — bills get paid now, grocery shopping is a weekly event, easy breaths come most every day, and there will be flowers on the table at the end of the day.

• • •

©2013, Jen Payne

17 thoughts on “A Little Perspective from a Summer Bouquet

    1. That is indeed a heart rock collection! I don’t know when that started, but all of a sudden there’s lots of love showing itself in my house. I, too, have a shell collection and a few jars of beach glass – both with me since I was a kid. I have a newer basket full of forest treasures now: feathers, bark, dark stones and seeds. Nice to have a bit of nature inside, right?


      1. Right. We always had a nature table in the house when my kids were young. I have oodles and boodles of nature in my place and on my porch.
        have collected heart everything for years. My heart rocks, shells and glass are my favorite collection…at least today, I am pretty flighty with my faves:>)
        Have a great day,


      2. A nature table – that sounds wonderful! I have baskets and jars and displays all over my house now. My nephew seems to have picked up the penchant, too, and he’s only 2. For this birthday, I gave him a treasure basket with a few seashells he collected from our last visit to the beach. More to come I am sure!


      3. We home schooled, but tried Waldorf for several wonderful years. Very nature-oriented, the whole classrooms were nature tables with murals painted on the walls and a tree house in the kindergarten room. You would love it as much as I did, I bet. I wanted to live there. Glad you are sharing your love of nature with the little one.


      1. Why are we so blessed? I suspect is has to do with attitude? We’re Americans, we’re supposed to be blessed with abundance. I’m not being sarcastic…seriously, I think it’s like The Secret, Laws of Attraction, etc. Being blessed, prosperity are part of the fundamentals of this country, right: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


  1. It’s all in the attitude – and the perspective. I hope the car’s feeling better and I know you enjoyed the flowers. Sometimes we need a little dark to appreciate the light. 😉


  2. There is nothing quite like your first place. The $10 a week grocery bill, the job or two to make ends meet, the friends and the sense of it all being fresh, new and ahead of you. Now that my girls are approaching college I find myself thinking about apartment hunting and the thrill of that time. And it isn’t just a nostalgic view, it really was exciting and fun.


  3. Altogether a lovely post, compound of nostalgia, bittersweet, hope, and deep acceptance.
    Sometime I will tell you of early married days, a one room apartment, and the “envelope system” of budgeting!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s