Outside the sun is shining and the sky is spotless, but the blanket of leaves on the grass speaks of autumn. The bare trees against the blue and the frost that clings thick to every blade of grass in the mornings speak of winter.
But on my table, half-neglected but basking in the afternoon sunlight, a pale purple flower thinks it’s spring.
Someone gave me the African Violet two and a half years ago. It came in a basket; three small violet plants with velvet leaves, and two curling ivy stems.
I moved them all into a offwhite pot, sat them on the table, and watered them now and again. My mother told me it was hardly worth the repotting; African violets are tricky, and mine were doomed. But she bought me the pot anyway.
Two of the plants turned sickly and died that winter. But the third seemed to like having the pot to itself. Dark leaves grew out of the ever-thickening stem; tier upon tier of them, tiny hairs standing thick on the leaves like the strands of velvet.
But it never flowered.
I wish I could tell you that I figured this plant out, finally. But really I have no idea. I quit fertilizing it, then started again. I dumped all the dirt out and put it back in again. (Yes, the same dirt. It still looked like dirt!) And I figured that keeping it alive was success enough.
And now, as autumn goes on and leaves fall and plants outside turn inward, dormant and waiting for the spring, my African violet has decided to bloom. I watched the hard blossom form on the stem, a ball of pale white with purple creases; watched it swell and watched the petals lose their hold on each other, slowly, oh-so-slowly, opening to the world.
And now one is fully open, a bright spot of color. And new little buds are forming on stem-ends, even as new velvet leaves uncurl.
I guess I’ve got a little piece of spring on my dining room table.