Nothing says death like a pot of Hardy Mums.
I know the season of darkness is upon me when these rigid blooms appear in every flower box, every median planter, at every super market loading zone and every nursery from here to Toledo. With their clumped stiffness they look to me like flowers that were maybe once beautiful, before they underwent some very aggressive form of plastic surgery. They're taut and happy in a way that says, I'm very very sad, but I can no longer express emotion with any of my botanical muscles.
The way growers have engineered these blooms, packing them with ferocious density into their plastic vessels, they look strangled by good cheer, and it makes me feel the way I often do, that there must be something wrong with me. I cannot experience joy when surrounded by this kind of blind optimism. These dreadful pots of glee make me look over my shoulder, make me wonder what harm will overtake me.
That harm, I know, is winter. And its coming for me, for all of us.
So desperate are we cold climate dwellers to hang on to color, before it is washed away by the greyscale of inclemency, that the market is glutted with these flowers of doom. The once gay marketplace of uniflorous blossoms, strong in their singularity, embraced by the sultry breezes of summer, give way to these shivering clusters, huddled together for warmth against the autumn chill. They stand erect and without perfume, elbow to elbow with their clone-like siblings, their fuel injected colors groveling, "I wont die, its not cold, the sun is shining, that's not frost" but they don't convince me. I see Mums and I want to shout back.
Its their can-do spirit I resent. Fuck you, little cheerleaders of death, I know what you're hiding. Your congested glee is but a ruse, distracting us from the inevitable - long months inside, no sun to guide us, fighting with the chores of the cold, the endless battle of the thermostat, fire stoking and stoking and stoking, the winter gear, the muddy entry, the dripping boots, the shoveling and sanding, the painful bus stop intervals, the illness, the dry skin.
I know you winter, and I see what you're up to with these dreadful little flowers. I see your omen, and I'm planting bulbs, the equal and opposite show of faith, by way of revenge.