Finding resilience in a very unusual time

NOTE: This essay originally appeared in the April 30, 2020, edition of the Newark Advocate. Thank you to Slow Flowers member Evelyn Frolking, owner of Studio Artiflora, for sharing it here.

Evelyn Frolking of Studio Artiflora

Last fall, I planted 400 tulips that would bloom successively in waves of color. Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness, but little did I know how those blooms would arrive at a time when we are starved for something to boost our mood.

With my floral design business slipping into a quieter phase, my tulip bounty was suddenly out of sync with the times.

So with rows of vibrant beauties growing towards the sun, I put a notice on Facebook and opened a pop up on my front porch one Friday afternoon. In the 20-minute period following the opening bell and with social distancing in place, I sold out, 140 tulips off to spread joy.

The tulip fest led me to think about resilience. We’ve grown a bit nostalgic now, aiming for stoic even, staying home, staying occupied, uncomplaining. And while we yearn for the normal, we remain stalwart. In all of this, we seek simple pleasures.

I live on Broadway with a front row seat to street and sidewalk activity. People are out walking and biking, their busy activity outnumbering passing cars. Singly, in couples, as families, they are out, many walking their dogs. One friend I know is looking to adopt a dog. Around the country, humane societies are emptying, dogs off to go walking. Dog owners know the pleasure of strolling along, clearing the mind, being patient when their companion’s happiest moments are stopping, sniffing, and peeing along the way. It’s a peace-of-mind sort of time.

We are blowing the dust off of jig saw puzzles, board games and card games. For one family, this has become a nightly routine before dinner. Another proudly completed a 2,000-piece monster of a puzzle after hovering over a mountain of disjointed pieces for hours, days, sorting, trying, fitting.

Screen time is clearly bursting at the seams. We’re sharing Netflix favorites, Hulu hits, and Masterpiece journeys. We’re Zooming. Add in Facebook and Instagram and we’re connecting our disconnected selves. My grandson, Max, just learned to ride a bike and I was there on the screen to see him make his first ride around the parking lot.

With time on our hands, home improvement is having a heyday. I’ve painted my kitchen, a bathroom, and my flower studio, even refinishing part of a floor long over due. With others doing the same I am told, the village must be shining within!

It’s almost time to garden and I’ll bet seed starting is coming into its own as garden centers are among those businesses mostly shuttered. My small passive solar greenhouse is full of seedlings, ready to go when the weather is. I’ve dug my raised beds several times now, just because, I guess, waiting for COVID to ease up, just waiting. And probably unlike others I would guess, I’m delighted to be watching six baby chickens peck around and grow.

And so we go on. Finding resilience.

Evelyn Frolking
Evelyn Frolking

After living and teaching English in Maastricht, the Netherlands, as a Fulbrighter, Evelyn later returned to the land of flowers to study Dutch floral art where she graduated from the Boerma Institute of Dutch Floral Design with a certificate in Dutch floral design. Evelyn studied the past two summers on Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle where she made the commitment to more eco conscious floristry that includes buying fresh flowers from local flower farmers whenever possible and refusing to use chemical laden floral materials, such as floral foam. Studio Artiflora is a member of Slow Flowers and Evelyn will attend the annual Summit at the Filoli Historic House & Garden in Woodside, CA in June 2020. Evelyn has also been selected to design for Art in Bloom at the Columbus Museum of Art in April this year. She led the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce for six years and is currently a member in good standing as well as a member of AmSpirit Business Connections. She also taught writing at Denison University for eight years and in 2012, published her first book, Homegrown: Stories from the Farm

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