Lily of the Forest (street)
Upon taking a walk in Torrington, my son and I happened upon an unexpectedly beautiful sight.
It was Sunday afternoon and the day had been marked by chores and art and as I had the more mundane of the two activities I convinced my son to take a break and enjoy a stroll with me in our city. We had no actual destination in mind but since my son was quick on his feet, we made excellent time getting there. It was not the most perfect of days. The sky was not the crystal clear canopy of blue; it was merely an interrupted cerulean blue that faded to an off white hue in the distance. But it was pleasant enough to extend our walk farther than we had before so we traveled north of Prospect on Water Street until it turned into Migeon Ave and followed it along until we could turn right on Forest Street. We crested a hill that I hoped would lead to an expansive view of the city but it did not, and I felt a minor disappointment that our walk had merely been for the exercise when I was suddenly captivated by an object of rare splendor.
Separating the sidewalk from the immediate descent down a hill to an industrial factory was an old fence. It was a wrought iron fence that met a secondary chain link fence with barbed wire. In between the iron bars emerged a perfect red and golden yellow lily that cast a loving shadow over the cracked asphalt below it. The lily protruded from behind the rusty poles framing it, volunteering its blossom outward, serene and elegant.
I would not have seen it at all from the driver’s seat had I been driving by and if I had been riding a bicycle I would not have stopped. But we were walking so I asked my son to stop and we looked at the colors. The deep red and yellow in a bed of green was poetic given the juxtaposition of the industrial setting and nature’s gift hidden there. We stood for a moment simply to watch the petals glow in the sunlight.
It’s not uncommon to see lilies, in fact we have some in our garden and I’ve seen more exotic flowers in arboretums and in well tended parks but to see the magnificent flower in an unusual place made the beauty all the more exceptional. Someone took the time to place them there at one point and they have grown to their fulfillment.
On our walk home we saw a neighbor painting his porch steps. Another neighbor mowed the lawn. Another neighbor was building a picture frame. Some planted gardens of their own. Each seemingly minor step that was done to increase the beauty of where they live individually increased the powerful city experience tenfold.
We make our city better in our own small ways that make a larger difference. As for me, I strive to plant perennials in the creative garden. As anyone I have my own wrought iron bars. Perhaps you do too. Some have crushing debt, or find that the day’s labor left the soul wanting. But for many there is an inner drive that compels an artistic seed to be sown. We want to see what will flourish, what flower may branch out to the world and announce its presence with serenity and elegance. And if by chance someone happens upon my creative work they may wonder why the message has to be so positive, why the cartoons have to be so happy. They may even ask if I realize that life is not perfect as my depictions suggest. My answer is that are already plenty of oak trees, substantive and strong. There are plenty of boxwoods for hedges and demarcation. There are plenty of blueberry fields already that provide a source of food. And there are weeds that serve no other purpose but to fill in empty spaces with noxious content. But I find value in a simple perennial of artistic expression and hope that others on their journeys will walk by and for a moment stop and smile like petals glowing in the sunlight.