I don’t particularly like the smell of marigolds when we initially plant them in the late spring. They are so distinctly pungent. We plant them as a bug deterrent, and so they smell functional if that word can be used as a sensual description. They’re also competing with the syrupy sweet apple blossoms from our tree, the dew-bedecked strawberry blossoms, early lupine, and hyacinth-that-was-a-surprise.
Then come the bright summer blooms, the zinnias, the slightly salty smelling squash and tomato blossoms, the lemon thyme, the lavender bending in the gentle summer breeze. The marigolds still bloom on, strength in their scent; their scent begins to be familiar, and we get accustomed to their overpowering aroma.
But in the fall, when nearly everything has died, that’s when I love the smell of marigolds.
When you can smell the death of leaves. When the fall harvest of raspberries near freezes on the bushes behind the garage, and fall off a juicy mess, waiting for a toddler to come and “rescue them.” When the geese sound their cacophonous symphony, expecting applause. When each leaf falls, silently, a testimony to the truth that it doesn’t matter if anyone notices. God is still glorified in His creation.
That’s when I like the smell of marigolds. Because they smell like beauty that fights adversity then. They hold on. And in their persistence, their loveliness takes root in my heart. I searched for poems about marigolds today, and many of them seem to be about loss and sorrow. But I don’t find them sorrowful. Perhaps solemn and wisened, kind of like a person who has lost a lot but who has overcome tragedy and still smiles. Wistful.
Jubilee loves marigolds and will often pick them, despite repeated admonitions not to. She calls them her “getting married flowers.” She’s particularly attracted to the solid yellow ones with blossoms 2 or 3 inches wide. And I remember that God is a God who delights in small things and small-seeming people.
Today she brought me a marigold, and I marveled in the scent that I detested so very much several months ago. And I gazed lovingly at the petals, still perfect, so tenacious.
I’m thankful for this moment. It teaches me that things are not always as they first appear. Some things need certain seasons to be appreciated most fully. And I can find all kinds of life applications for this truth.