I love having cut flowers in the house. I know quite a few people who don’t, but I do. Especially for shabbat and holidays.
When we lived downtown I used to walk to the flower markets every Friday. It was like a dream come true – four (sometimes five) flower markets with dozens of varieties just hanging out in buckets, waiting to be chosen. I went home with something different every time.
Over time I’ve come to prefer wildflowers to the cultivated ones, though. The shift might have started when a friend blogged about the cultivated flower industry and how far those flowers have to be transported. I’m not sure. I do remember clearly that I started to really appreciate wildflowers the summer that our municipal workers went on strike. You see, they didn’t cut the grass in the parks for at least six weeks (was it longer?), and so all the “weeds” started to grow and flower. From dandelions (which are quite beautiful if you put aside your prejudices) to beautiful blue chicory, K and I picked them all and took them home to put in vases.
Thus began my tradition of picking our shabbat flowers with the kids instead of buying them. Sometimes we pick flowers growing out of the cracks in a nearby alleyway, sometimes they’re from our garden, but they’re almost never the cultivated varieties that I used to buy. Some of them, like the wild mustard, are commonly considered weeds even though they look beautiful in a vase paired with my shasta daisies.
There is something satisfying about picking our own flowers from what God has allowed to flourish without conscious watering or cultivation. It seems to suit the spirit of shabbat – what we have is beautiful, and on shabbat we can appreciate the world as God made it rather than as people use their power to change it. I just love it. And I love coming to the table and seeing something like this: