Hanging out with the trees and shrubs and flowers is calming and life-affirming. First of all, my plant friends don’t talk. Secondly, they are good listeners.

Normally, I don’t purchase azaleas in the spring or summer. It gets too hot in the Bayou State, and because of their shallow roots, azaleas can die of thirst without the ability to dig deep for water.

So it behooves  this Southern girl to buy azaleas in the fall. Knowing that I should not – must not – plant in the summer, I still could not resist poking around the garden center last July. Looking never hurt anything. Or anyone.

There were only a few azaleas left, and I knew I wouldn’t buy any, but something propelled me to sneak a peek.

A particularly dark one caught my eye – not a yellow leaf on it. Someone must have really taken good care of this one. Let me just look, see what color it will bloomOrange. 

Orange Azalea for Susan

Orange? I had never heard of an orange azalea, but this one would bloom so pretty in spring. I should buy it. No, don’t buy it. It’s too hot to plant it right now. Look at it. It’s only three dollars. If it doesn’t make it, you will not have lost much. Ok, I’ll get it.

Orange Azalea for Susan (2)

I had this conversation with myself on July 6. Susan died on July 4, but I didn’t find out for several days. Maybe – just maybe – Susan, with her lovely orange locks, was telling me to plant this orange azalea to remind me not to despair when I think of her.

Orange Azalea for Susan (3)

To remind me to smile when I think of her.
To be happy that I knew her.
To be happy.
To be.

Orange Azalea for Susan (4)

So I coddled Susan’s azalea until the weather turned cooler and the universe was ready to accept this gift for her.

When I was knocked down onto my knees in despair over having lost her, Susan herself cradled me and urged me to go on. Ramble on is what I shall do.

Susan's Azalea

I give this gift to her, but she is not bound by the limits of my garden. She is no longer manacled to the lie.