Last month I visited North Carolina just in time to catch the end of my mom's peonies. Big, pink, fragrant and full, I think they must be my favorite flower of all. Mom had bouquets of them all over the place, even in the fridge. She told me that if you cut the peonies when the buds are fat, just before they bloom, then dip the stems in wax and store them in the refrigerator, then when September comes along you can take them out, cut the stems, let them soak in some water, and they will bloom just as if it were May again. I guess I'll have to plan a trip home again in September and see this miracle for myself. Peony season corresponds with strawberry season, and so I was able to enjoy two of my most favorite things together at once!
But now it is the middle of June and, although the peonies have long since bloomed and gone in NC, in New York there are still bundles of the gorgeous flowers to be found in street-corner flower markets. We can thank the mild Northern climate for that, as well as the long, late, wet spring we are having. Summer is just around the corner, yet the typical day has not made it up past 75 degrees, and sunshine has been rare. A woman I work with, Maria, lives about an hour's train ride out of the city, in a large house with a lovely yard, with peonies in full bloom. And even though its getting a bit late even for New York peonies, hers are planted in the shade and so have outlasted all the neighbors. Maria has been bringing in bucketloads of peonies to decorate the shop, much to my delight. In fact, imagine my joy when I came to work yesterday and found my own personal peony bouquet at my desk--a reward for hemming three pairs of Maria's pants, because she doesn't own a sewing machine. I'm a fan of this sort of bartering system! No matter how hectic and crazy my job gets, there is always room for a few peonies, whose soft petals and delicious scent make me smile and think lovely thoughts.
So, tonight I am thinking of peonies, and eating strawberries, which are still in season here, and it made me think of this picture I took last month when I was home. I love it.