Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center
We’re now on week six of the Safer at Home directive. Have you had your fill of Zoom gatherings yet? Followed enough links on the internet to form a chain a million miles long? Forwarded your share of toilet paper jokes? Cleaned out the garage? Figured out what to do with all the lemons on your backyard tree that you can’t give away anymore?
Along with the depression, frustration, boredom, and fear for the future that this pandemic has brought, there are some bright spots—literally. Flowers. Lots of them. Everywhere. One small piece of luck for us is that coronavirus hit Southern California just as spring was starting. A bunch of days of rain nourished the plants and the city burst into color: pink crepe myrtle trees like birthday cake icing, bright orange poppies taking over gardens and fields, and magenta ice plant turning hillsides into neon wonderlands. Not to mention all the birds and bees and butterflies that these flowers attract.
Spring is always beautiful here; what is remarkable about that? The difference is that we are experiencing it in a new way. With activities limited and movement restricted, many of us are walking in our neighborhoods more—much more—than we ever have before. Instead of walking once or twice a week, I’m walking three or four times a day. Short walks with my 92-year-old dad. Long walks with my next-street-over neighbor whom I met at the Pasadena Senior Games several years ago. Medium walks around the neighborhood while I talk to friends on my cell phone.
I would have thought I’d get bored covering the same ground over and over. But each day, and each time I go out, the flowers are different. They open full on sunny days, hang their heads on gray days. Poppies will appear overnight and be gone in a few days, whereas a particular rose, with a particularly fine scent, might be leaning over a fence for me to enjoy for what seems like weeks.
There is a house about six blocks away, which I often walk past now. The front yard is filled with fragrant herbs and flowering plants. Dad and I always stop there on our walks to watch the tiny iridescent hummingbirds flitting from tree to flower, dancing along with the butterflies. There is a wonderfully aromatic sage plant in that yard. The owner gave me a cutting from it, which I’m rooting now so I can have one in my own garden.
I always have my phone with me when I go out walking (who goes out without their phone these days?), which means I always have a camera handy. As a photography enthusiast, I’m now fascinated with the colors, shapes, and textures of plants I hardly paid attention to before. Years from now, when 2020 is known as the year the world stopped, I’ll have a scrapbook full of photos to show that when the world stopped, I stopped too—to smell the roses.