Summer of 2010 was the coldest summer on record in Los Angeles, and I think this winter is the coldest I can remember in the 17 years that I’ve lived here.  That summer, cold as it was, was a non-starter.  Rain had ordered Begonia bulbs in the Spring, but by the time he actually potted them, it was already June.  We had about a dozen pots; both ceramic pots for standing plants and plastic hanging pots – all huddled off to the edge of the patio that still gets sunlight in the afternoon.  It seemed to take forever for them to get started.

 

 

Shakti's puja tray of Begonias and Hibiscus.

Yet, one by one, their baby pink tubers peeked up through the soil and eventually, blossomed.  All except two standing pots, which I watched suspiciously, as Spring turned to Summer and their soil went unstirred.  One began to develop mold, so I knew the bulb had rotted so I removed the pot from the group.  It had totally decomposed; there was hardly anything left to throw away.  But the soil in the pale green pot still looked viable; and it cost me nothing to pass it back and forth every day, eyeing it and waiting for a change.  As the summer wore on, the Begonias in the other pots exploded and I was graced with Puja trays piled with opulent blossoms in a variety of shades of salmon, red, pink and yellow with crimson edges.

Finally, as the summer waned, our un-proverbial late bloomer in the green pot awakened from its slumber.  For its debut, it produced a huge, dazzling pink, ruffled blossom that was totally worth the wait.  Autumn came, and as the other plants began to lose life force, this plant kept producing these show-stopping blooms that were the center piece of the puja tray.  They were always the ones offered to my Guru’s picture.

 

And they kept on coming – until finally, I picked the last one in the last week in December.  The day I picked it, I steeled myself knowing that after this last bloom was gone, I would have to cut the plants back, prepare the bulbs for storage, and my patio would again be barren til the next Summer. I would now have six months of having to purchase whatever I could to offer for puja:  baby Carnations, Alstromeria, perhaps an occasional Hibiscus.  Now, the feeling of abundance that would naturally arise within me as I harvested  the Begonias every morning had to be cultivated; it was no longer a product of my experience.  Now it was all in the attitude: I was grateful for these store bought flowers. If I focused on my gratitude, I could amplify it.  But the generosity of energy that I got from our Begonias was gone.

In January, I happened to end a relationship that needed ending.  For months, I kept thinking that it was over only to have it flare up again, so that end was a long time in coming. Now, that energy, too, was gone, and a chill came over me.  Often, I would find my mind heading down dead-end thought processes about my choices, the circumstances, wondering about the future in a vain attempt to grasp the past.  Quietly these thoughts would steal into my consciousness, unannounced, wreaking havoc until I would notice them and in doing so, lessen their effect.

This inner dialog, though, is persistent.  It wants to know when will it experience that energy again.  It wants richness and beauty and it wants it to be summer, too!  It is Los Angeles, after all.  We never used to have winters like this – they were always so mild.  It wants to love – and be loved – again.  This inner dialog does not know about time, and that it heals.  It is not aware that without time, nothing can.

Meanwhile, the Begonia bulbs know that it’s Winter.  They know it in their DNA – on a level we humans wouldn’t condescend to consider knowledge.  But it is an intelligence nonetheless.  They rest, nestled in sawdust in little cardboard boxes in the tool shed, as night temperatures around here flirt with freezing and the wind and rain scrub our polluted air clean.  The bulbs are gathering life force; germinating, storing energy.  They don’t dream of Spring.  But they’ll know what to do when the time comes.