The old codger squints at the flower, a perfect orb of fine, purple petals, and pokes at it with his finger. He’s got a camera strapped around his neck, and I can tell he’s debating whether to snap a photo of this bloom, which looks somewhat like a burst of fireworks caught in freeze-frame at the moment of detonation.
It’s an onion, you dope! I want to say, a Giant Allium, interspersed here in the garden among the earnest flutes of the Dutch Irises. You can eat it!
But I say nothing because I’m sort of pissed at the codger, who I now see is maybe 10 years older than I am. I resent his encroachment upon this beautiful little spot where I’ve come to play video games on my phone and, perhaps, leach some of this poison from my soul. That I’m so irked means it’s not working too well.
If I’m being honest — and what’s the point if I’m not? — I’ve been feeling a little down on my fellow humans lately: the ones who ousted Liz Cheney from her GOP leadership role, the ones who say they “identify as vaccinated” while enabling new variants of this deadly virus to flourish, the ones who hoarded gasoline to create an artificial shortage, the ones who cut me off in traffic, the ones who slow down the checkout line, the ones who misspell words on social media, the ones who just don’t get it….
When you’ve got this many resentments, the problem is you.
And so I’ve come to the garden, to this quiet little alcove by a tiny pool where the lily pads are just starting to cluster but the lotus buds have yet to bloom. I want to listen to the gurgle of the fountain and the soft breeze through the stalks and stems, to let the scent of the flowers wash away my poison, to create a rare piece of serenity amid the mundane agitations of my life.
I want to be more like the flower, out here photosynthesizing in the sun, and less like the funky onion down there in the dirt.
On my way back to my car, I spot an Allium Hollandicum, another purple sensation tucked into a flowerbed near Ladies Glove blooms that hang like tiny bells.
“It’s an onion,” I say quietly; there’s no one around to hear it.