The Flowers In My Neighborhood Weren’t Wilting, But I Was: A Walking Story

It’s been hotter than hell — well, maybe not quite that hot, but hot enough — in the Philadelphia region, where I live, during much of July. And it’s been similarly hot in countless other portions of Planet Earth. You don’t need me to tell you that global warming has had a strong grip on our orb’s metaphorical balls for many years now, and that the situation is only getting worse.

Anyway, the heat was especially nasty in my area on the 21st and 22nd of July, days during which the highs came this close to hitting the fabled 100°F (38°C) mark, ultimately falling a degree or two short. The humidity was impressive too. Nice weather, no? Like countless millions around the globe, though, I had little to complain about. That’s because I stayed inside my air-conditioned home most of the time. Sure, air conditioning is made possible largely by the burning of massive amounts of fossil fuels, thus contributing significantly to the global warming crisis. But what’s a guy to do? Turn off the A/C and melt like a Popsicle? Shit, my balls, which aren’t metaphorical, wouldn’t appreciate becoming liquified.

That unfortunate possibility notwithstanding, at 11:45 AM on the 22nd I decided to throw caution to the wind by launching myself into the elements. I’d had enough of being an indoors wuss. The time had arrived to become an outdoors wuss! I smeared sunscreen lotion all over my wrinkled, age-spotted face and then drank about 20 ounces of water to up my hydration level. Those important tasks accomplished, at noon I stepped outside with one main idea in mind: I was going to walk on many blocks of my suburban neighborhood in search of pretty flowers. The many flowering trees and azalea bushes in my hood all had dropped their blossoms well over a month ago, but whatever other flowers were around (and I knew that there wouldn’t be a whole lot) would have little chance to escape my eagle eye. Off I went. The walk turned out to be a pretty good one, two miles in length and one hour in duration.

My wife and I moved to our abode 14 years ago. And somewhere in the middle of those years I came to realize that there ain’t an amazing quantity of summertime flowers on the two hundred or more properties surrounding us. There’s no explanation for this. It’s just one of those things. I mean, all of the residents keep their lawns and shrubbery trimmed nicely, so it’s not that they don’t care about appearances. But the zing factor from flowers could be far, far better. The color that dominates is green. Green lawns. Green tree leaves. Green bushes. These two photos show my neighborhood’s typical summertime looks:

Yet, of course, there are exceptions. And I dug them. Here and there were excellent flower beds. And here and there were A-OK flowering bushes, including Rose Of Sharon shrubs. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Rose Of Sharon, there having been several of them on the front and back lawns of the house I grew up in decades ago. And they grow brilliantly in my current backyard. Theirs are the only flowers to make an appearance on my property this time of year. I’m glad that a previous owner of my house planted those bushes because I, one of the world’s most inept and lazy gardeners, wouldn’t have taken that step.

Rose Of Sharon shrub in my backyard. This is the only photo taken on my property.

If there’s one flower for which I have an even softer spot than Rose Of Sharon blossoms, it’s the sunflower. Is that because Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower paintings elevated it to iconic status? Maybe. Or is it because of the neat, trim house, in Manhattan’s quaint West Village enclave, that I walked past sometime in the 1970s? Lofty sunflowers grew in front of that small structure, contrasting magnificently with its white exterior. It’s possible that flowers never had made an impression on me like those did. And maybe none have since then. After all, here I am, all these years later, remembering them most fondly. And writing about them.

Yes, I encountered sunflowers on my neighborhood trek the other day. I was two blocks from my house, heading home and sweating like crazy. Despite all the water I drank before leaving home, my lips were unpleasantly dry. I was wilting. Lo and behold, at a corner property I saw them, a long row of sunflowers grinning at me. I stopped to say hello. I took their picture. And I’m going to go back and look at them again after I finish writing this essay. The world needs a lot of things. Peace, compassion and tolerance, for instance. And vastly more sunflowers would be very good too.

Sunflowers

In closing, it should be noted that the blazing Sun and extreme temperature kept things uneventful and quiet in the hood during my walk. The streets were almost empty of people. I saw but one human other than myself. Few cars passed me. And for the first time ever on my strolls in my town, not only did I not encounter any dogs, I didn’t hear barking from inside or outside their houses either. Not until I was about to enter my home at 1:00 PM, that is, when the distinctive yaps of a next-door neighbor’s pet escaped through closed doors and windows. Inside my house I stepped. I checked my balls. They seemed not much the worse for wear. Hallelujah!

(Please don’t be bashful about adding your comments or about sharing this story. As always, I thank you.)

(If you click on any photo a larger image will open in a separate window.)

129 thoughts on “The Flowers In My Neighborhood Weren’t Wilting, But I Was: A Walking Story

  1. krc August 8, 2019 / 6:24 am

    i agree

    sunflowers are awesome

    Liked by 1 person

  2. smilecalm August 10, 2019 / 3:17 pm

    wonderful praise
    for sunflowers
    and just the right
    amount of sunshine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Emma August 11, 2019 / 3:27 am

    Well done for venturing out of your house in that heat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 11, 2019 / 7:24 am

      Hi. The heat wave has ended in my region. The weather is more normal now. Have an excellent day. Many thanks for dropping by.

      Like

  4. Basia Korzeniowska August 14, 2019 / 3:52 am

    What a pity there are not more flowers in your neighbourhood. but I am sure roses and geraniums would thrive in your garden and provide a lot of wonderful scent and colour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 14, 2019 / 8:32 am

      Hi, and thanks for your thoughts. I’ve never been much interested in gardening, though I like to look at flora. I’m much more an appreciator than I am a cultivator. Enjoy the day. See you —-

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Michelle Le G August 18, 2019 / 1:25 am

    I’ve got a plant that I was told is a Rose of Sharon but it bears no resemblance to your Rose of Sharon!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Silver Screenings August 18, 2019 / 3:50 pm

    Some very talented gardeners in your area.

    Thanks for sharing the photo of the sunflowers. I find them a little creepy when you look at them close up – the centre where the seeds are reminds me of a wasp nest – but from a distance they are beautiful and cheery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 19, 2019 / 7:02 am

      Hi Ruth. I’ve gone back several times to look at the sunflowers that I photographed for this story. Their bigness and brightness really get to me.

      Like

  7. viewfromoverthehill August 23, 2019 / 2:09 pm

    Where does all that energy, which I used to have, go to???? However, somehow, I always manage to stop to enjoy the flowers some of my neighbors nurture. Enjoy your walks. I love your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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