Purple Geraniums

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I have been growing purple geraniums in my front and back yards for over a decade. Formally named Martha Washington after their famous planter, the flowers are commonly referred to as Regal Geraniums due to their color and velvet texture. Every spring, they light up my outdoors, splashing the air with cheer. Ideally suited to the arid southern California soil, they form resplendent symbols of beauty and fortitude, tenaciously spreading across the garden every spring, in rain as well as in shine, each plant overflowing with charming, big blooms all the way through fall. Interestingly, on my trip to Florence, an engaging cafe owner told me an anecdote about geraniums, that dates back to World War II. The story goes that when the Nazis bombed Florence in 1944,  human life,  historic buildings, valuable artifacts, rare fauna and lush foliage were  destroyed. As the city of Michelangelo and Leonardo-da-Vinci sat steeped in gloom for months afterwards, residents couldn’t help noticing that tiny geranium samplings had begun to creep up again from the mud, the rubble and the many forgotten nooks, gradually restoring color and vibrance to war- stripped Florence. The story is one of my favorites to tell, testifying to the spirit of survival. Each time, I share it, it makes me fall in love with my resilient purple geraniums all over again. The fact that plants so pretty and delicate have the power to surmount the worst possible calamity makes them unforgettably inspirational, impelling us to rise and shine despite the odds. In these singularly uncertain times, there are so few things that one can be certain of, one of which is knowing that nothing can keep my purple geraniums from returning every spring – neither the winter and El Niño nor drought and water shortage. Even as I cut back the geranium stems every November, I smile big knowing that my spunky little plants will bounce again in color and glory soon after the new year sets in. Thank God for small wonders. Thank God for my purple geraniums and their abiding promise of hope and happiness.

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Del Mar

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Del Mar, the beach front community that I am so lucky to call home, is a fantasy of sorts, where summer lasts all year long, where youth seems, so to say, eternal and dreams invincible. The beaches are perennially busy with people frolicking along the squiggly shoreline as the rugged land embraces the enormous water, offering a sight at once formidable and inviting. Del Mar’s beach at 15th Street with its lush Torrey Pines and unforgettable sunsets is much adulated by film and print media. It is, however, the surfer boys of Del Mar who shower it with utmost adoration. They show up with their gear every day to ride the waves even when it is misty or raining as though to keep an ardent promise made to the beach, a pact so inviolable that they’d rather risk their lives than break it. The surfer boys are enrapturing pictures of beauty and perfection as they ebb and rise on the ocean floor, doing a dance both calming and brave, real and ethereal, many of them waiting for hours to catch a perfect wave to ride on, presenting a timeless lesson in practice and patience. Today is yet another glorious day in Del Mar, holding out sunny assurances. A stranger smiles and nods as I look up from my writing on a green patch by the shore. Farther up, a surfer boy walks into the water, surf board and paddle in hand. In the distance, I see a big wave coming and sensing his euphoria, I grin. Everyday is a reason to believe. Life is a beach.