The Rose of Winter
When my family moved to Florida, my parents became true aficionados of azaleas and camellias. They learned the names and could identify the plants by the scent of a flower or the shape and texture of a leaf. Late to flower, camellias were often a risky business in north Florida where the first cold snaps often converted showy white and pink displays into an ugly brown mess.
When the weatherman predicted an overnight freeze, my mother often salvaged as many of the camellia blossoms as she could. She tended to display them in small, decorative bowls on end tables, the buffet and in the center of the dining room table.
When I visited my parents long after I graduated from college and was in the process of packing up the car for the drive back home, Mother inevitably decided at the last minute to send me home with sacks of flowers wrapped in damp Spanish moss so I could continue to enjoy the best blooms.
I don’t have a green thumb. My wife does. So when anything blooms in our north Georgia yard, she has a hand in it. Our showy white camellia is producing dozens of flowers this year. From a distance, the ground beneath the bush looks like snow from the fallen petals.
Here in the South, our Rose of Winter is not only a highlight of our Autumn yards, but a gauge for how cold it’s been. We know the pure white on the evergreen bush is transitory, but like all other fragile things that come and go at seemingly random moments, camellias are all the more beautiful for the risks they take when they dare to flower in the Fall.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of four novels, including his heroine’s journey fantasy adventure “Sarabande” (2011) from Vanilla Heart Publishing.
Latest “Malcolm’s Round Table” post: The Dance of Sun and Moon – Stages on the Journey