In this highly complex world, there is still great beauty even in the simplest of things. Take daisies, for example—Oxeye, Shasta, English, Marguerite—almost any member of the Leucanthemum vulgare family. Just a central yellow flower surrounded by fifteen to forty white or roseate petals: nature’s simple way of saying “Good morning!” in Esperanto.
Daisies have recently caught the wee wife’s gardening eye and I have no doubt that come next summer, several varieties will be cropping up in our garden. That’s fine by me. Daisies are perennials that spread easily so you can bet that we’ll have plenty of blooms for the dining room table. That’s something to look forward to while we endure the cold, dark days of winter.
Speaking of winter, it’s coming. I realize we’ve been floating through a string of lovely Indian Summer days, but they’re only a prelude to the dreich days to come. Not to worry; we’ll get through it; we always do. The promise of better days to come…
Speaking of which, I wish our political garden were as simple as a bed of daisies, but it’s not. By the time all the ballots have been finally counted, more that 160 million votes will have been cast in the recent election. That’s nearly 67% of all eligible voters—a record-breaking turnout for both parties. Whether or not this historical high turnout is a harbinger of greater participation in the political process or just a blip on our democratic radar remains to be seen.
At the same time, the high turnout and the narrow margin of victory only serve to underscore the deep divide that exists among us. I’d like to think that a new administration can bring some much-needed healing to this nation, but, honestly, I’m worried. All the vitriol that fueled that record turnout won’t simply disappear in a month or two. While there may well be a lot of chaff swirling in the air now, the wheat of legitimate grievances will still need to be addressed before any measure of healing can begin. The pandemic is still rife; our economy is still ruptured; systemic racism still runs rampant; climate change is all-too-real. Grousing about the outcome of the election is just time lost, or worse, only throws gas on the fire. If we’re going to come out of this tunnel in one piece, we need to get to work.
So what does this all have to do with daisies? Just this: believe it or not, lovely as they are, daisies are weeds. Because they spread by rhizome fragments, daisies can pop up in unexpected or unwanted places: lawns, cow pastures, even cracks in the sidewalk. Sure; daisies make lovely ornamental plants in a garden bed or add a touch of grace to a table top, but left unattended in a pasture, they can turn a cow’s milk sour or even carry crop disease. In other words, daisies need tending.
Democracy needs tending, too. May we all be up to the enormity of the task that lies ahead.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com