Bay Reflection
One Brief Shining Moment
by Pat Piper

My friend Al and I were standing around the clump of white and red peonies admiring not only the color and not only the new buds getting ready to bloom but also the fact these flowers showed up at all.

"Beautiful," I said to Al.

"Sad," Al said to me.

"A gift," I said to Al.

Yeah, I guess you could say we were having an argument. It had begun, as most arguments begin, simply. All I said was the flowers were beautiful. I didn’t even know they were peonies. Al told me what they were. We were standing in my back yard, and I had brought him there to see these fantastic blooms I had always admired.

"Look at it this way," Al said. "They spend 50 weeks every year as nothing more than brown stems and then, for two weeks maximum, they live this short moment of blossoms. This," he said, pointing at a peony, "is the whole enchilada. That’s it. Two weeks and you’re out of here."

I listened. This was indeed a sad story.

"Now over here," he pointed toward the rose bushes, "you got your basic tea rose, and this one is gonna go way past Labor Day. Now I ask you, is that fair?"

"Al," I said, shaking my head, "it’s not fair."

"Exactly. The rose bush is always full of life, even in February when nothing is living. The rose bush is green. The peonies?" And now he pointed back the other way. "The peonies are brown and could be just stupid weeds you pull out of the ground if you didn’t know better. Sad. Real sad."

"You are measuring worth and using a pretty narrow stick" I offered. "It’s not how long you show up, it’s what you do when you show up."

"Don’t go philosophical on me," countered Al. "Because if you go that route, then we’ll miss the issue at hand." He looked back at the thick white blooms on a particular peony stem. "It’s not right that a fantastic flower like this can only be around for such a short period of time while a stupid dandelion can be around forever."

"Al," I began, "Janis Joplin was a great singer but she wasn’t around very long. We appreciate her now. It’s the same thing that’s going on with the peonies. If these bloomed all summer we wouldn’t be having this conversation."

"So all of this is a lesson?"

"A lesson."

Al thought for a moment. Just a brief moment. "Well, explain the dandelion then."

Now I thought for a moment. It was longer than a brief moment. "Well, Yanni keeps putting out records."

"I know," Al said, "and that’s very sad."

"Very sad," I said.

Piper reflects from Rose Haven, where his work as ghost writer for Larry King leaves him time to garden and sail.

| Issue 23 |

Volume VII Number 23
June 10-16, 1999
New Bay Times

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