Each morning here on the island of Aegina in Greece, I open the white metal shutters of our bedroom and press them back against the bisque coloured stucco. They are secured with black iron hinges shaped like ‘S’s that swing up and keep them from blowing and banging in the breezes off the sea below.
The massive rubber tree is a jungle all on its own outside my window. If we didn’t trim it gently now and then, it would reach over path, through one window and out the other if it had its way. I love the tree; its rich thick and glossy leaves that spring out of persimmon red sheaths. These emerge as points at the end of branches and arc to the sun to then split and release an unfurling oval emerald leaf.
Its confidence in its place in the world, its right to reach in any direction and taking its share of the sun impresses me. I always take a moment to thank it for its twining branches that offer such quiet green privacy from the road. The Jacaranda reaches slender branches up through the rubber tree maze to find light for its fernlike fronds and sweet light periwinkle flower clusters. In June the blossoms drop to the ground and create a grand allée under the shade of the rubber tree that arcs over the stone path. Once fallen on the ground they are a deeper shade of purple and create a path like a serene ancient temple procession.
One morning not long ago, I noticed creeping along the branches slight tentative tendrils with spade like leaves. A Bougainvillea was searching for a perch deep in the shade along the robust rubber tree branches. What would take it though the hard way, I wondered?
If you know Bougainvillea, it is exuberant and loves big lavish displays in the sun spilling over rooftops and along trellises; the very colours of the Mediterranean – fuchsia, magenta, coral red and cloudlike white. And then one morning came this sweet surprise: a single fuchsia bloom. It was sublime. Simple. Dear. Mornings became more precious to see this little gift when I opened the shutters. I waited patiently and would check throughout the day to capture the moment when the sun shone on this clear little face, so confident in its place in the world and taking its share of the sun.
The flower is gone now and the twining Bougainvillea continues to make is green leafy way through the shade, reaching through the air to find the next landing. The cicadas have taken up noisy residence and fly wildly when we walk along the shaded path below.
I love this picture. I gaze at it remembering my own delight when the flower first appeared. But more than that, the image tells me of other things about life. Nature is the most profound source of metaphor. But then again, we ourselves are nature. This image tells me about joyful self-expression, about finding our way. About knowing our worth. About beaming in full colour. About living with others, untroubled by our differences and sometimes leaning on one another for support. And finally about reaching for the sun and our sovereign right to bask in its light.
Me Agapi (with love),