This time of year, the hot, unchanging fragment of summer, or patchwork landscape of apple cider donuts and fire-colored leaves—depending on where you are—is wonderful for the senses. We are surrounded by a new kind of love in the air with Halloween celebration marked by Hocus Pocus-themed gifts arriving in the mail, packs of chocolate to treat ourselves, and Goosebump marathons on a cold night laying dormant in bed. Some people might argue that this time up until the chilly days of December is the best time of year, and I am one of those people. A semi-haunting, out-of-reach atmosphere seems to always linger in the air, inching forward like a nature-camouflaged cat ready to pounce—but once you look around, there’s nothing to be found. For me, the sweetness of the season is this thrill of chasing after that same sort of overlooked aspect.
Marigold flowers spark the arrival of the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos) from November 1st to the 2nd. These flowers are thought to help guide loved ones’ spirits to the altars their families create for them, complete with memorable photos and the deceased’s favorite dishes in life, while also representing life's fragility. As real petals can leave behind a delicate scent for only a few days until they die, artificial flowers are different. Mimicking in all its substance, its presence is just as comforting; without the mess and that final ghastly smell. The material keeps over time—its unusually vibrant colors and textures stimulating for the senses—while also embodying a constant reminder of the beauty that real flowers contain.
Rather than toting around a tin watering can that resonates when touched, or a circle of store-bought seed packets, soft sheets of crepe paper or any thicker material, glue, scissors, and caterpillar-resembling pipe cleaners can be set on the craft table. Fashioning the paper into folds of cut “petals” and attaching these to a long, fuzzy “stem” is both an entertaining pursuit and a way to, perhaps, express one’s admiration to someone special. Buying artificial flower bouquets can be just as thoughtful—just as pricey as a lifelike bouquet, though somehow sweeter in intention. I will come to explain why.
A bouquet of artificial flowers in the home symbolizes an everlasting hope, a celebration of an indefinite amount of time. Instead of worrying about the need to change the water in the vase, one can gaze on and forget that the breath of death is a part of life, rather relishing in the beautiful moments that life may hold. While a home full of fresh flowers might attract a horde of bees and houseflies, the artificial flower, as its lifeless sibling, captures human attention and may remind them of lighter times, or the splendid aspects behind being just as sturdy.
I have memories of the orchid gardens, the Carlsbad flower fields upon a Girl Scout expedition in my youth, and my dad chopping single, pink roses from the front yard to give to my sister, mom, and I any time of year, saying “a rose for a rose” and giving us each a loving hug. I also have memories of being given a stock-paper origami bouquet of yellow and orange lilies, a blue satin-held arrangement of pastel, silk peonies, and of my mom purchasing a mini, pink faux-rose from the Las Vegas IKEA—to which she placed in a teeny hollow vase for keepsake. These in mind, I feel like there’s something to be said about the originality and permanence about the artificial floral display, something along the lines of “I won’t ever fade away,” as they come to represent both a friend and sliver of undying life.
A quote by Max Muller reads: “A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.” A nice string of words, quite true, though with disregard for this concept of the simulated flower. Able to keep in bloom among the sunshine and moonlight, the good times and the bad, attention and neglect both, the artificial blossom can come to distinguish inspiration, artistry, and a ceaseless affection—any time of year, and for the rest of them.
While planting and nursing flowers might represent us soul-gardeners as fulfilling personal growth and recognizing that life is fleeting, all it takes is one beautiful, fake flower to embrace the concept that you are just as lovely today as you were yesterday. A landscape peppered with them simply represents the beauty held in a specific moment or many, whether they be in one’s own home, backyard, or the fiesta (party) in our individual minds, constantly budding over the days.
KATHLEEN ARAGON is a senior English major at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. Her poetry has been published twice in her college literary magazine, Kanilehua. She is also the founder of Trópica Laced Literary & Art Magazine and enjoys zines, honey lavender lattes, and her dog named Churro.