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Taking Root

February 8, 2014


Last week the dorms closed and almost all students and faculty left campus.  I don’t really like to travel, believe it or not, so I’m one of the few ghosts still floating around.  After the tears, drama, and raised voices of finals week it’s a nice change of pace.  There are no classes to prepare for and no meetings to attend.  The books are finally cataloged and the library is arranged.  Every single scholarship application is done and there is nothing I can do but obsessively check my email.  Even my French class is on hiatus for a few weeks.

So I’ve been planting flowers.

I’ve always loved flowers, but not the cut ones from the store, the real dirty thorny ones you grow in a garden.  Flowers are amazingly easy to grow here.  If you see a flower you like, just pull off a branch and stick it in the ground.  Add some water and patience and voilà—Liberian flowers!

By the time I left Sanniquellie flower bushes flanked one side of the big blue house and my passion fruit and pineapple grew under the trees.  I often wonder how they’re doing.  Does my small son, Grandpa, pick the bright red hibiscus flowers everyday?  Did the passion fruit ever bloom?  Does anyone bother to clean the weeds?

But I know their roots are strong and, somehow, they will survive.

The weather is gorgeous right now.  We’re at the end of the dry season so the humidity is right around zero and the evenings are breezy.  I make a leisurely circuit around campus snipping branches from my favorite bushes and then hurry home to put them in the ground.

There is something hopeful about planting flowers, something that says things can be better and things can be beautiful.  My yard is an ugly mess, a broken down bus serving as someone’s storage unit right in front of my door, but flowers look to the future.

Fifteen years ago no one in Liberia was thinking about flowers.  They were looking for food and a safe place to sleep.  But if enough people start believing that things can change and things can get better maybe they will.  It just takes time and encouragement.  Liberia could be a beautiful place.  It should be a beautiful place.

A few weeks ago we sent a lot of hopeful seedlings across the ocean.  Some are already dying, but maybe—just maybe—some will take root and something beautiful will have the opportunity to spring from this dry red dirt.

I’ve got the water.  Just keep the good thoughts coming.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.

 – Henri Matisse
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Crooked Tracks permalink
    February 8, 2014 11:04 pm

    Your flowers and your blog are beautiful 🙂

  2. Robert Dahl permalink
    February 8, 2014 11:37 pm

    good thoughts from mn. remember the cards you sent me, paintings of beautiful flowers, trying to come up with the woman painter.grandma

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