For the past week, I have been all but paralyzed with the terror of what is happening to this country, the way racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia and all sorts of other hatred and bigotry, as well as just plain apathy and ignorance, have seemingly won out and are now threatening to derail and reverse virtually all the progress we have made in the past years. I am still reeling, still very afraid, and still furious. However, there are still flowers, and one of the ones still blooming in my garden in particular is giving me a shred of hope as a symbol, a metaphor of what we all must strive to be - an American survivor.
Dahlia 'Mrs. I. de ver Warner'
'Mrs. I. de ver Warner' is an American dahlia variety introduced in 1920. A descendant of Mexican wildflowers domesticated by the Aztecs, like all dahlias, it survived for decades after disappearing from commercial cultivation and the bulb trade as an heirloom pass-along in some gardens in Kentucky. Most remarkably, it did so as a hardy perennial overwintering in the ground, in a part of the country generally too cold for dahlias to be hardy. It has thrived similarly for me here in New England. There you have it, then - a large, flamboyant, bright pink and hard-working descendant of Mexican immigrants that has survived and flourished through all the indifference and inhospitable conditions this country has thrown at it to produce nothing but beauty. The very essence of what being American should be - needs to be! - all about.
You can read more about the story of 'Mrs. I. de ver Warner' here.
More importantly, here are some ways to get started on doing some good and help write our own story of American survival:
Now go and fight for the America I once believed in and want to believe in again. Fight for an America where I and the people I care about can feel safe. Fight for the survival of the diversity, intellectual vibrancy, and promise of equality that really do make this nation great.