Slow mornings

by | Dec 4, 2013 | Uncategorized | 12 comments

 Every now and then I have the luxury of a slow morning. No alarm clock. No early start with work appointments. Just relaxing into my own rhythm. Before breakfast I have a bounce on my rebounder while taking in the fresh morning air, letting my eyes sink into the distant horizon

and watch the pohutukawas slowly coming into flower.

Time to enjoy the flaming pansies I’ve planted

and to hear the petunias trumpeting their morning song, while the tuis sing from the distant trees.
I have time to enjoy watching the amaryllis, which surprised me by springing up and producing a sumptuous bud.

 I have time to reflect. My thoughts turn back to almost one year ago, when I was feeling the pang of an anniversary.

 You know how it is. Somehow grief gets packaged away behind the calendar, tucked in and tightly bound, where it lurks, waiting for the one date when it is guaranteed to break through, gasping and clawing the air.

 I impulsively bought this flowering amaryllis last year, on the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death. The plant reminded me of her in an inexplicable way. Grief broke through the calendar on that day, but buying the amaryllis in full flower provided solace: a counterbalance of beauty and softness.

On the very day of the third anniversary this year, it burst into flower. As if it knew. Not just one, but four, one for each of the four directions: east, west, north and south. Elizabeth was a traveller. She covered every point of the compass in her adventures. And now the amaryllis was singing her praises.

Slow mornings. Time to step outside, to be with the plants and to be with my thoughts, wherever they take me.

Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening, has a piece for this time of year, entitled ‘The Truth about Morning’.  He says:

There is a vastness that quiets the soul. But sometimes we are so squarely in the midst of life’s forces that we can’t see what we’re a part of. . . . 

The truth about morning is that it is the small light of the beginning breaking through, again and again.


  1. Penny O'Neill

    Not only is the amaryllis singing your beloved mother in law’s praises, Juliet, but, so are you with your touching and sensitive words here. I love how you cup the four petals of the amaryllis with Elizabeth’s travels to the four corners of this earth. That the sun shines through it are all the more fitting.

    Thank you for the reminder to seize the moments we are in.

  2. Hotly Spiced

    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost your mother-in-law. She sounds like a very special person. How glorious that the plant flowered on the anniversary of her passing, especially as it would be such a difficult day for you. You have a lot of beautiful flowering plants in your garden xx

  3. Juliet Batten

    Penny, what a kind comment; thank you. It was amazing when the sun came out and shone through the petals. A friend has just told me that the amaryllis is known for being absolutely predictable in its flowering.

  4. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – love the collection of photos and your explanation of the various plants – flaming pansies – aren’t they glorious. However what a lovely way to remember your MIL – the amaryllis looks amazing – while the greening and colouring of the spring palette shines through.

    I used to have a rebounder and when I can I’ll get another – not possible here .. cheers Hilary

  5. Juliet Batten

    Charlie, my mother-in-law was very special. Even after my first marriage ended, she remained my friend for life. The flowering on that very day was a wonderful surprise. Thank you for visiting.

  6. Juliet Batten

    Hilary, the rebounder has been a faithful friend for many years and is a very pleasant way to exercise. I’m glad you enjoyed the flowers. Thank you.

  7. silkannthreades

    What bliss is a slow morning. My first encounter with Amaryllis was in this book
    by Gene Stratton Porter. The name/ the flower fascinated me, as a child; it was something magical that belonged to places far from my little home in Fiji. I don’t think I saw a real amaryllis till I was in my 4th decade of life but it wasn’t a strange, wondrous encounter. It was like meeting an old friend.

  8. Juliet Batten

    Silkannthreades, what a delightful story about how you discovered the amaryllis. I loved Gene Stratton Porter as a child; she was a favourite author of my mother’s, whose copies I read. But I don’t remember this one. I must see if the library has it.
    Thank you for this lovely comment.

  9. Juliet Batten

    Silkannthreads, I’ve just checked the library and they don’t have anything of hers. How disappointing. I’ll go to the link instead.

  10. Vicki Lane

    What a lovely morning — refreshment for body and soul!

  11. Juliet Batten

    * Linda, it is very lush . Auckland is sub-tropical and everything is really green right now.
    * Vicky, it was certainly refreshing for me.

    Thank you Linda and Vicky, much appreciated. I’m out at the bach on ultra slow dialup hence the delay in posting your comments.


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