Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Greeting the Dawn

I lay no claim to any talent where photography is concerned, but I am sharing these photographs for a reason. The Morning Glory is my birth flower and I always have loved it. The heart-shaped leaves and the glorious trumpet-like blossoms in their delicate variations of purple and blue are an exquisite combination. I do like climbing vines, even if they can prove rather hostile to other flowers and plants by embracing them too tightly!

The other photograph is of a rather more tropical vine, a Mandeville. I usually wouldn't choose a tropical plants. I prefer Northern trees, plants and flowers. The oak, the birch and the rowan take precedence over palms and foxglove, columbine and bleeding hearts always would be chosen over hibiscus or flowering cacti. In fact, one of my favourite flowers is the snowdrop that manages to flower in the snow during the winter. The flowers that actually struggle to survive, ultimately emerging victorious over the cold and ice are those that I love most. Nonetheless, the Mandeville is irresistable. Its vibrant colour is extraordinary. It produces huge flowers, proclaiming its refusal to be ignored. 'I will be admired!' is its attitude, unlike the Morning Glories, beautiful flowers too often ignored or dismissed as 'invasive weeds'.

That is not to say by any means that I do not love beaches and swaying palms, but there is something valiant about plants and trees in Northern climes that tugs at my heart.

The morning glories and the Mandeville grow on a deck that I can use in the early mornings. Today I greeted the dawn with joy in my heart and I realised suddenly that I had allowed my pleasure in life to dim somewhat recently. Pain and death had been allowed to affect my mood...

Traditionally, Despair was considered to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins. In the 19th century, they had a beautiful poetic way of describing depression. It was 'la melancolie'. One languished in a state of 'Melancholy'... and there even were individuals, especially in literature, who died of it! When we were children, I had a friend who loved to use antique expressions. We would go to the local 'art' cinema to watch old black-and-white films, especially those that featured Ronnie Colman or Errol Flynn. 'Gone with the Wind' was a passion. When we spoke on the telephone, we often would remark that we were afflicted with 'la melancholie' or 'the vapours'. It had no relationship with the truth. We simply found the expressions amusing.

Now though, I have to confess a real bout of 'melancolie' has afflicted me of late.
It was a very insidious, slow-acting influence, but nonetheless, like a climbing vine, it was winding itself progressively through more and more threads of my life, choking off my natural 'esprit de vivre'. I am not a melancholic person by nature. I can find joy in small things each day, even in the worst of times. During the bout of 'melancolie', I continued to have many good moments when I smiled and laughed. It is not as though life became utterly dark. On the other hand, it was only when the very simplest act of magic truly dispelled this sombre influence that I realised how dark the cloud had become.

Now, with the Morning Glories on the deck, I open my heart today to the sun. Life indeed is what we make of it. 'La Melancolie' may be attractive in 19th century art and literature, but it is a dangerous enemy in reality.

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