Over the weekend I dug up several of my favorite plants from the gardens at my farmhouse in Hartford in order to re-home them with me in Glens Falls. A couple had made the trip out several years ago, one being a very beautiful and beloved pink tree peony I couldn’t bear to part with, even though I knew unearthing after so long would probably be a chore.
But if I was going to take any, now is the best time to move these plants, as they are getting ready to go dormant in the fall. I hadn’t cut the seed pods off after flowering as I usually do, a practice which supposedly helps the plant’s energy go into the roots and leaves for a better display the following year. Tree peonies rarely go to seed or make more of themselves anyway, so all the effort on their part is wasted.
Having skipped that step this year, I was rewarded with their inwardly beautiful seed pods cracked open and on display. The reddish pink interior and articulated chambers reminded me so much of a heart, which, as a nurse, I have seen on more than one occasion, both inside and out.
Like a seed pod, the heart is a beautiful and complicated but very basic thing –a functioning work of biology, natural engineering, and art–that I’m sure not many people spend much time thinking about, or ever actually get to see. If you look it up, there is no real synonym for the heart, no one word that means quite the same thing. I think that speaks to the nature of its’ immense power, real and metaphorical, that both guides our choices and keeps us going on.
There is a quote or lyric that often comes to my mind, although I can’t remember who it’s from, that reads, in part, “there’s more room in a broken heart.” When something is opened, however that happens, whether a flower’s seed pod or a human heart, I think it’s free in a way– free to be empty, to let go of what it once contained. But also free to be filled up again.