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A Lavender Story

The days are long and hot.  The bees, butterflies, and fireflies are claiming the horizons.  Mornings are hazy and afternoons are bright.  Local rivers and streams are slow and gentle, and fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market are succulent and juicy. Summer is fully here, and it’s lavender season in North Carolina. 

I wrote the first draft of this post a year ago, right after I attended a local lavender festival.  But I didn’t post it at the time because I was never quite happy with how it turned out.  Looking back now, I think some of the content was still a bit uncomfortable.  I hadn’t quite found peace with the tensions and anxieties that were vexing me during the previous lavender harvest.  But one year and two lavender festivals later, here it is.  This is my lavender story.

Around this time last year my friend lost her job.

It was unexpected and suddenly, and probably not very fair. We were all worried and upset for her, and while she did a great job of coping, I knew that she was having a hard time coming to terms with it. I couldn’t even imagine what she must be going through, though I was (and still am) kind of in a similar situation. I finished graduate school a year ago, and only recently am I making forward motion in regards to finding a job in my field (though I’m not quite in the clear yet). When I graduated I went from student to unemployed literally overnight.  And while I spent last summer diligently looking for a job in my field, a huge portion of the past year has been spent reading, writing, and goofing off on the internet.

Actually, it’s been pretty awesome. Sleeping in and staying up late, reading for pleasure rather than for study, catching up on all the shows that I’ve missed or fallen behind on in the past three years. But despite an abundance of cat videos and Netflix, I can’t stay home on the internet all the time, so last June we decided to go to a lavender harvest festival at a local farm.

It was just a few days after her unemployment news that I sent my friend an email to coordinate our plans for the lavender festival. Later, I had dinner at her place and reminded her of the email. She said “yeah, it surprised me. I had forgotten that life goes on.” We laughed awkwardly about her comment, made plans, ate soup, and let her rant about her former place of employment.

Later, while driving to the farm, she talked a bit more about her worries and concerns. My sister, who has known her fair share of job-search troubles, tried to reassure her.  But maybe all of us were feeling a bit tense as we drove through the beautiful North Carolina countryside, trying to find this elusive lavender farm.

A few missed turns, a bumpy road, and finally, we were there. The lavender farm is incredibly lovely, with a little farm house, a fragrant barn full of drying lavender flowers, a sweet garden, and rows and rows of lavender shrubs, blooming in all the colors of purple one could imagine.

We walked around, taking our time to really appreciate the little details. We giggled about how cute and fat the chickens were, commented on how perfect the weather was, and we discussed gift-giving ideas for the people we love. The “farm tour” was an intimate conversation with the owner of the property, and her pleasure at running a farm of flowers was obvious. We joked about how calm we’d all be if we, too, lived and worked on a lavender farm.

And slowly, throughout the lazy and sunny afternoon, Lady Lavender began to work her magic. We all felt the tension dripping away. Our breathing was deep and even. Our minds were calmed and our hearts were at peace. After dodging the bees in the lavender field, my sister excused herself to go make floral crowns for us, just in time for Midsummer. Later we sat around eating lavender ice cream and chatting about nothing in particular.  Much of the time we sat in peaceful silence.

Finally, it was time to leave, and we decided we’d take one last romp through the lavender field, on the way back to the car. So often when I am having a magical experience, I feel the energy rush upon me, overwhelm me, envelop my body like an electric blanket. But lavender’s magic is incredibly gentle. I don’t think we had realized how tense we all had been until it was all gone.  Our conversation on the car ride back home was much more positive, uplifting, and cheerful. We had had a lovely, calm day, and though the festival was actually pretty small, it was just sweet and simple enough to help us cultivate good feelings and positive energy. Our trip to the lavender farm reminded me that mystical and magical experiences don’t have to be ecstatic or overwhelming.  The Cosmos can be gentle and sweet, like a field of lavender on a hot summer day.

Now a year later, my friend has a job that is much better than the one she lost a year ago.  I’m taking steps towards employment, getting started on some paperwork that will allow me to work for an agency that is a great fit for me.  We went to the lavender festival again this year, and my sister and I sipped lavender lemonade while sitting in the cool shade of a pecan tree, lying in the cool green grass, smelling the perfumed air, and talking to the bees.

One year later, life goes on. And sometimes that life is dodging the bees in the flowers. 

(Photo courtesy of my awesome sister, Heather Morris!)


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