So I’m reading a book by Kate Atkinson titled When Will There Be Good News, and for a moment in it Louise Monroe worries about flowers:
She would drive into town and go to Maxwell’s in Castle Street and get the florist to put something together for her, something elegant. Blue, for the living room—a flat-back basket arrangement for the fireplace—would he have Delphiniums? Was it too late for Delphiniums? Of course, it didn’t matter what the season was, florists didn’t get their flowers from gardens, they got them from greenhouses in Holland. And Kenya. They grew flowers in Kenya, where there probably wasn’t enough drinking water for the people who lived there, let alone for irrigating flowers, and then they flew the flowers over in planes that dumped tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It was wrong but she needed flowers.
Which paragraph brought me to two places, an oft-repeated gesture of flowers (I used to bring a bouquet every time I met a friend for dinner and then press them as a gift afterward, until, years later, she would automatically strap the nodding peonies into the passenger seat for her long drive home) and Michael Cunningham’s book The Hours which starts “There are still the flowers to buy.”
Which led my mind to Michael Cunningham’s book A Home at the End of the World which I have put down three times, each time I reach the page when Carlton runs through the sliding glass door. I too have been on the other side watching someone run through glass. The glass does fly brightly through the room. And then the blood.
But the flowers. It’s always seemed odd to me that the flowers for my friend gained meaning as they became a ritual. When there wasn’t any fear that the gesture would be misunderstood, when I’d stopped fretting that the flowers would extravagantly wrongly glimmer and force attention, when I didn’t have to think beyond the pleasure of choosing and putting together color and shape of leaf and petal, when I could spend days creating something I couldn’t see around or gather something together in my lap on the way to the party for equal effect, then the gift took on depth. This progress toward meaning isn’t, I think, innate to pleasant habits, though it is perhaps one of their purposes.
Honestly, as someone who lives a deeply chaotic life, I couldn’t begin to say.
But I will say that this table with its sheen would look lovely with flowers. And with its two leaves, it’s an excellent table for holiday and family gatherings where people eat the same food and tell the same stories so that memory working with repetition might create something that catches your deepest attention, as did the young man in his group of friends walking behind me last night when he said: “It rained all the way down.”
But then he turned the corner and I didn’t hear about the rest of the journey.
Table dimensions: 44 inches wide, 65½ inches long (as set up in picture above) and 29½ inches tall. There are two leaves, each 15 inches wide. The chairs are sold separately, set of six $300.