I love hydrangeas.  They remind me of the summer in this part of the world, of faded clapboard houses and halyards snapping against masts and our wedding day.  I’ve always particularly liked blue hydrangeas, and only recently realized it’s because they are basically the same color as a saturated sunny sky (and, also, as my son’s blue eyes).

But I think there are other reasons I love these flowers so.  As Heather commented on my post last week, hydrangeas last and last.  They are sturdy and durable flowers.  And their colors shift subtly as the season turns forward.  The blue gets deeper and then, in August, shifts again, fading to a purplish green.  I love tracing the passage of weeks in the changing colors of the flowers in my front yard.  That love has a hem of sadness in it, though, because the changes present irrefutable proof of time’s passage.

The thing I love best, though, is the way the composition of a hydrangea’s soil dictates the color it is.  As you can see from this photograph (taken down the street from my parents’ house, and upon exclamation by Grace that there were “multicolored flowers!”) sometimes this variation happens within a single bush.  This is tangible evidence of the power of terroir.  I think often of where I’m from, of the ways the thread of the past glints through the fabric of now.  Hydrangeas, blue or pink depending on the pH of their soil, are an irrefutable manifestation of the way the circumstances we grow and live in shape who we are.  And this is, I think, the most beautiful thing of all.

4 thoughts on “Hydrangeas”

  1. I love analogy, and this one is particularly sweet. Thanks for connecting those dots for us today. I don’t know much about this particular flower, but I’m liking it more and more.

  2. As Julie said above, a beautiful analogy, and I really love this line: “the ways the thread of the past glints through the fabric of now.” So visceral. I understand exactly what you are saying. I just finished reading Ontaaje’s memoir “Running in the Family,” and that’s the crux of his POV in the book: how our family’s past, even before we are born, shapes who are today and who we become.

  3. my paternal grandmother was thrifty and would save all her plastic bread bags, crochet them into hats and wear them (or give them away). those hats were always the shape of hydrangea flowers, so walking past a bush with giant flowers on it always reminds me of her. they will always be “grandma’s hats” to me 🙂

  4. I also love hydrangeas, even the way they turn pretty brownish purple in the fall if you leave the blooms on. I cut a bunch of them last fall and hung them upside down from our dining room light. They lasted until February or so, before they were falling apart.

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