Sunday, July 26, 2009

Flower Power

I loved the 60's. It was the decade of peace, love, sit-ins, long skirts, braids, free love and our family vacations up and down the state of California.

In a brave display of fortitude, Dad drove us smack into the middle of San Francisco in the summer of 1967. I remember Lombard Street (yep, we got to drive down it back then), the Golden Gate Bridge (which I still think is orange, not gold) and the hills of Frisco that we drove up and down hoping the brakes would hold. My Dad then made us lock our doors when we drove through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. He seemed certain the hippies were going to mob the car (secretly, I think my Dad would have joined them had he not been married with children). And Mom seemed to believe the love children would run up to the car and rip Melanie and I out of the back seat - presumably to force us into the love-commune. Both rather paranoid concerns were shared by my parents and were repeated to us several times during our cruise through the wild intersection of love and peace, in spite of the MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR t-shirts and fresh daisy chains worn by all.

Driving through the throng of long haired, flower chained, tie-dyed hippies, I knew they were onto something. Peace, flowers, cotton, sandals and hair that didn't need to be crimped, straightened, curled or cut. And they were smiling (of course, they were probably stoned, but I was too naive to know that). I should have jumped out of the car right then and there (not for the drugs, but for the non-drug-induced euphoria that seemed to permeate the air), but I bought into the paranoia and watched wide-eyed from the left rear window in the back seat of the very slow moving white Chevrolet Caprice, as the sea of hot pink/lime green/pyscho orange/lemon yellow cotton flowed by me.

I missed my chance to be a flower child by about 5 years (I was only 13 when we drove through the sea of love) but thankfully someone long ago shared with me the much loved and well-known phrase, "Take time to smell the flowers." I have always remembered both the daisy flower chains and the phrase.

Even earlier in my life when I was a very little girl, my Mom, my sister and I would visit my Mimi and Boppie in Illinois during the summers.. I am told that when I was very little I used to watch from the front picture window of my grandparent's home for my Boppie to come walking down Pell Street in Paxton, Illinois from his job on Main Street, just a few blocks away. He would walk home at lunchtime from Paxton Mercantile and when he walked up the stairs to the front door I would be there to greet him, "Boppie, can we please go smell the "plowers"?" Even as a young toddler I loved the fragrance of flowers (or plowers as I called them). Flowers can brighten anyone's day, even when you are 3+ years old and especially when you get to look at them with your Boppie.

And I love to "smell the plowers" even now. I always try to find time to pause in the craziness of life and take a deep breath and smell the flowers. However, I believe a flowerless future is ahead; the next 6 weeks are going to be so busy that I am certain I will be plower-deprived before they are over. A flurry of both business and personal travel will keep me on the road most of the days between now and Labor Day. I am afraid I will be too busy and too tired and too preoccupied to stop at all, let alone to stop and smell the flowers.

Life goes by too fast for us to allow our 'daily grind' to overshadow the moments of simple pleasures that are all around us. Boppie could have told me no and that he only had a short time for lunch, but if he had I would not have later heard the tender stories of his time with me and the "plowers", and I wouldn't have the pictures of me smelling the "plowers" along the side of his house while holding his hand. I am so glad he took the time to smell the plowers with a little redheaded girl who adored him.

Smelling plowers is one of those simple pleasures we need to find time for. I am going to be on the road (and in the air), but I am now determined to make time. In fact I think I will stop at a sidewalk flower stand and purchase some flowers for my hotel room. They will brighten my day and I will be able to smell them all night long.

Maybe it's a good thing I didn't jump out of the car in Haight-Ashbury, and maybe not. After all, I have always been more comfortable in peasant blouses, long flowy skirts and jeans and sandals than any other type of clothing (my children have no idea that I am really just a latent redheaded hippie). I was quite happy in the lovefest of the 70's with long wavy hair, halter tops, jeans, mexican sandals and a flower tucked over my ear.

Flower power is real, whether you are a hippie or not. Flowers can brighten spirits, soften a room's decor, infuse sweet fragrance or add vibrancy to your day.

Maybe I should make a daisy flower chain and wear it while I am gone so that I can smell the plowers all day long. My hair is long and wavy again, maybe I will wear a long skirt, peasant blouse and mexican sandals, but my halter top days are over - I couldn't do Haight-Ashbury then and I am certainly not going to try to do it now! Mom and Dad can rest easy.

Zazie "Flower Power"

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