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Flowers in a beer bottle
On her way back from a trip to DC, one of my best friends, Calla, stopped by the house today for a quick overnight before continuing her trip home to Paonia, Colorado.
One of the great things about living on a small urban farm is that we are still very much in the center of the action, only 20 minutes from the airport. Many of our visitors are friends and family who stop off on their way in and out of town. It's a perfect mix of access to businesses, shopping, educational and recreational opportunities, and then we can still walk outside to the goats and chickens.
Sitting in the middle of my kitchen table right now is a New Belgium beer bottle with two beautiful pink peonies carefully balanced from the top. They look like pastel fireworks bursting from the amber glass. After reading of my peony struggles earlier this week, my neighbors, Pam and Marcie, brought the flowers by on their nightly walk with the dogs - a gift from their yard.
I could have transferred the flowers to a vase or glass worthy of such regal blooms, but there's something about the juxtaposition with the beer bottle that sets them off especially well. After years of planting with the hopes of these flowers gracing the middle of the table, the gift from our neighbors feels almost better. Something about friends stepping in to fill the gap adds to the beauty.
Upon coming into my house, Calla noticed the peonies. "You know, Paonia (her hometown) was named for the peony flower," she remarked, "but the Postmaster General decided there were too many vowels and renamed it 'Paonia'."
The town was officially incorporated in 1902 and had its first election in July of that year. The peony roots that Samuel Wade brought with him to Colorado in 1881 inspired him to submit the Latin name for peony, Paeonia, as a town name. The post office would not allow the extra vowel, so "Paeonia" became "Paonia". The full name of the flower is Paeonia mascula.
Calla and I have been friends since before we were sentient. Our mothers were pregnant together, and only a month apart in age, we have lived our whole lives together. Sometimes we're in parallel, and sometimes complimentary, but we're always there for the other. It gives each of us a uniquely authentic perspective on one another’s lives that allows us to know and be truly known.
Upon learning of my crazy urban farming exploits, Calla jumped in with verve. She was with us when we picked up the first goats, still marvels at eggs as they're hatching with me, and drove a truck full of fruit across the mountains for me during a challenge where I lived off what we produce here for a year (I got the fruit under the barter clause - ha).
Before that, Calla slept on the couch of my tiny trashed apartment in a high-rise in downtown Denver with me when we were in our 20s and helped me pick outfits for my little dog. She's a skilled cellist, a photographer, a podcaster, an environmentalist, and a poet.
One of the best parts of having varied and broad interests is having a network of people with the same flavor of weirdness. I have been so fortunate to meet and build a community of friends, family, and neighbors who approach life with a similarly open heart.
So, on my table sits those flowers in the beer bottle, the same flowers that inspired the name for Calla's town over a hundred years ago - just don't use to many vowels, or the Postmaster will cut it down to size.