On lavender and change and how attractive you just keep getting …
Last weekend, I took a road trip with my friend Carlyn, east of Portland and Mt Hood-ward. We started with a stop at Hood River Lavender Farm, a place I never thought I’d visit. Why, you ask? Well, I’ll get to that, but first let me tell you how fun and luscious it was.I got myself a zip tie and a pair of scissors, we roamed about the lavender, and I snipped ‘til I had a full bundle for just five bucks. And the experience served me up a sensory feast. So many bees were out and pollinating that it seemed like the lavender plants were actually buzzing themselves. Waves of multi-hued purple, sprinkled with yellow and red flowers made lovely aisles to stroll through. The soothing, fresh smell wafted up with the wind and the heat, and my skin was hot and damp under the sun. Right before we left, I even got to purchase some culinary lavender, making my mouth water with dreams of lavender scones or lavender drinks. My friend Bill recently declared that with three cold ingredients, anything can be a salad, so I think lavender tossed with some ice-cubes and some lemon soda and some champagne might be the best salad ever.
The rest of the Hood River day blossomed into a picnic with a pristine view of Mt. Hood herself, sparkling conversation, stretching out and sailing back and forth on a huge tree swing, Rainier cherries to die for, and a towering chocolate and vanilla swirl soft-serve cone from the Eastwind Café. Seriously, it was ginormo. The small cone might have been as tall as my head.
And all of that was great, but what really sticks out for me about our day is the fact that up until about three months ago, lavender and I were not friends.
Truly, for as long as I knew what lavender was, I hadn’t liked it. In fact, it always made me a little nauseated. I felt the same kind of repulsion toward lavender as people have when responding to cilantro or the word moist. As I’m writing this, I remember I even once wrote a play wherein I named an evil character Lavender. Clearly, my loathing ran deep. And theatrical.
It seemed like I should adore lavender—all herbal and natural with healing properties, all purple and lovely and looking like a poem—all things I’m in favor of. But I just didn’t. It grossed me out.
And it’s not like I put an anti-lavender sticker anywhere or got it added to my driver’s license or birth certificate or in some record book somewhere, but I was pretty sure my position on lavender wouldn’t change. Why would it?
But somehow, magically, within the last three months, lavender and I came to an understanding. I couldn’t tell you exactly how it happened, but sometime in the spring, while ambling by some in my neighborhood, I stopped and sniffed and raised an eyebrow at myself–which is harder than you might think, but I did it. And then I stopped and sniffed again, realizing that I kind of liked it. Huh. So when I saw a lavender farm as a potential stop for the great Hood River Adventure of 2010 last weekend, I have to admit, I was kind of excited that I actually wanted to go there.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This happened to me once before with refried beans. I went through what will now be known as Jen Violi’s Four Stages of Relationship with Some Edible Plants: Loathing, Understanding, Acceptance, Inappropriate Amorousness. And I was equally delighted by that turn of events. Now, I dare you to separate me from my refried beans. Remember that INXS song, “Never Tear Us Apart?” Yeah, it’s like that.
I mean I’m not quite at Inappropriate Amorousness with lavender yet, but I have to say that this has been a very pleasant week with lavender bouquets rocking out in every room of my apartment.
So what have I learned from this? Well, things can come around. Things do come around. People do. Opportunities do. Life does. It all might not come around looking exactly the same, and I probably won’t look the same either. I’ll probably just keep getting smarter and even more exceptionally good looking. And so will you. Look there, you did it just then. Hot, totally.
Of course it’s not like change is breaking news, but I seem to forget it often enough that I can be surprised. I am very skilled at keeping a strangle hold on some things, and those close to me would be able to give you many examples of my stubborn resolve and how I can sometimes get trapped in “the way things are supposed to be”—i.e., toilet paper needs to roll downward, natural light trumps artificial light, etc. So I guess I’m particularly grateful for gentle moments that remind me to loosen my grip and not assume anything must be or most certainly will ever stay a certain way.
I’ve had my share of much more jarring reminders to let go—death and loss and something I’d like to call Big Fat Stupid Unexpected Change. And ultimately, I end up being grateful for those reminders, too, but just with a little more angst.
So thank you, olfactory system and cells that regenerate, for giving me an easy embodied reminder of possible and inevitable change, of the hopefulness of that. Or thank you tiny nose troll, who decides what I like and don’t like to smell. Whichever.
And big kudos to you especially, lavender, for sticking with your growing and blooming and being there for me even when I didn’t give you the time of day. I appreciate it. I really do. And in case it helps, just ask refried beans; I’m sure they’ll tell you I was well worth the wait.
Thank you so much for reading. You might notice that I don’t have a space for comments, but I’m certainly open to conversation about what’s written here. If you’re so inspired, feel free to start a conversation with me via the contact form on the homepage of this site.