One has to love creatures so exotic and lavishly endowed. Summer's peonies are glorious creatures in their time of blooming - all velvety curves and fragrance, lavishly dappled with dew at the beginning of day, and oh the colors they come in...
The peonies we encounter on morning walks in the village come in hues ranging from delicate cream to deep magenta. Having a particular fondness for Oriental peonies (and an interest in their uses in the traditional medicines of China, Japan and Korea), I never tire of capturing them with the camera when we come across them in our wanderings. The French word for peony is pivoine, and an fragrance of that name is marketed by the French perfumier Yves Rocher - a scent that is lush and sensual, redolent of blushing peonies, sunshine and summer.
These blooms are from an heirloom specimen that escaped from a village garden many years ago and now lives in a hedgerow not far from home. Their blooming is almost over for this year, but when I look at them, it seems to me that like roses, they are loveliest as they fade and dwindle and wither, their petals falling away and fluttering to the earth like confetti. There's a sweet and poignant aspect to such thoughts as the summer solstice approaches, and I remember feeling the same way last year around this time.
Here we go again... In a few days we will step into the second half of this calendar year and start down the luscious golden slope to autumn and beyond. Strange to relate, my pleasure in the season and a gentle melancholy seem to be all wrapped up together in fringed and flowery bundles of peony petals. I recognize it as wabi sabi and treasure the feelings - they're an elemental expression of wonder, rootedness and connection, the suchness of all things.