Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring in Bloom

Every week for the last month, I have been arranging flowers -- in a Japanese style called Ikebana -- for the tokanomas at the Colorado Academy of Martial Arts. 

A few days ago, I found myself in the changing room cleaning up leaves, sticks, and bowls. A troop of very perky and intelligent little girls entered, having just finished their class. One of them sweetly and shyly told me that my flowers were very beautiful. I smiled at her and caught a whiff of what beauty might be to this nine-year-old, remembering the magic and fullness of encountering a reality that met the powerful imagination I had when I was that age. 

So I began talking about how in ikebana, we seek to bring what we see outside, inside. In little miniature scenes that seek to capture a feeling, or atmosphere, the season can be felt everywhere. Then we can't insulate ourselves indoors and forget about nature.

I explained that the reason why my arrangements had so many branch blossoms was because that is where the flowers are blooming right now. There aren't very many coming up from the ground -- they are all in the trees. As outside, so inside. 

That explanation is enough for the seeds planted in children's minds to find fertile ground and possibly grow. They had all listened quietly and politely while changing into their street clothes, and almost as soon as I was done talking they resumed the flute concerto of little girls talking and laughing. 

As outside, so inside. That is a profound way to not only arrange flowers in a space, but also to regard our inner workings. As the seasons change, progressing from one to the next in infinite stages of gradual growth or death, we too take steps forward in our lives, we too are changed by the weather, the position of the sun, the thickness of the clouds, the moisture that falls and saturates the earth. 

Every year, I seem to find an excuse to photograph the seasons as they change. I have built up quite a collection. Please, enjoy a taste of Colorado in bloom.

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