Monday, April 11, 2011

First Is Best—Gardenias, Bells from a Reindeer, Steps On the Beach after a Storm

By Christine Clark

The first gardenia of the year bloomed yesterday. Gardenias are my favorite flowers, so my first purchase for my bare Florida yard was a gardenia bush. Gardenias bloom for only a few short weeks in the spring, so I take full advantage of that time and fill vases and bowls with blossoms so the scent can follow me throughout my home. In the early spring, I study my bushes and pamper them with fertilizer and organic sprays to rid them of aphids and other creatures who might spoil their beauty. I watch and wait as the buds form, and eagerly anticipate that first white bloom.
Late yesterday, I noticed the first gardenia blossom. The first one is always striking to me and I view it as the most important. That bloom heralds more to come in the next month. I never pick it, but wait patiently, knowing more buds will open in the following days. This first gardenia blossom brought to mind other firsts—firsts that strike a chord in my psyche and wake up my senses. I know I have not become too cynical because I came up with the following group of firsts that thrill me on a regular basis.
The Polar Express, a children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, tells a magical story of the first gift of Christmas—a bell from one of the reindeer that pulls Santa’s sleigh.
Winter in New England is a trial; the first crocus of spring announces that the bitter days will end soon, soon.
Storms produce a charge in the air on the seashore. A first walk on the beach after a summer afternoon’s thunderstorm awakens the senses, yet calms, because, after all, the storm has passed.

Basil is my favorite herb. My pesto is famous for its taste and texture. The season’s first batch of pesto made from young basil leaves, parsley, garlic, and other secret ingredients, awakens the taste buds of all who eat it.
My eyes fill with tears, and I get that crying lump in my throat whenever I hear the first notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” right before the graduates begin their march into the future.
Lindt dark chocolate truffles are my all-time favorite chocolate. Nothing matches the first bite of one and the feeling I get as my brain gets busy manufacturing feel-good endorphins.
When my daughter Tarah climbed into the car after her first-ever soccer practice, she turned to me and said, “That was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life!”
Air-dried bed linens have a perfume that pleases like nothing else in the world. Scents of air, sun, and the Earth wafting over you when you first slip beneath those sheets after a long day produce a sense of well being few things can match.
First isn’t always best, but it often is. Stopping our busy lives to notice and appreciate firsts can bring a sense of joy and wonder at life’s gifts.
What are some of your memorable firsts? Do you take a few moments to stop and smell the gardenias or to savor that first bite of chocolate?

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