Flowers for the Soul
By Dr. Gail Sauer
“We should enjoy this summer, flower by flower as if it were to be the last one we will see.” ~ Andre Gide
We had a ritual in the Yukon, as we luxuriated in those endless summer days. The rays of the midnight sun lingered into the hours of the night, and we would decide as a collective that, since dinner was done, we should walk down the road and pick some flowers.
Those walks would occasionally foster quick conversations about changing the world, or laughter over some interesting happening that seemed only to occur in the north, or sometimes we would get on about who was dating who now (people seemed to shift around quickly in those days). Regardless of what words were spoken, without fail, we would end our walk with putting our beautiful bouquets of wild flowers in tin cups to decorate the breakfast table.
Tonight, I went for one of those walks—not in the wilds of the north, but in my own back and front yard. And the yield was just as fruitful.
What is it about flowers that makes our souls sing?
According to behavioral research conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, flowers have both an immediate and long-term impact on happiness. The post-study questionnaires also found that flowers encourage and nurture intimate relationships between friends and family.
If you are picking lavender, the benefits may be even greater. There is growing evidence suggesting that lavender oil may be an effective medicament in treatment of several neurological disorders. Several animal and human investigations suggest anxiety-relieving, mood-stabilizing, sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsive and neuroprotective properties of lavender, going so far as creating marked improvement in epileptic patients.
Wild roses are another gem. In the Yukon we would pick a few for our bouquets and eat a bunch of the petals as we walked along. Other nights involved collecting a small bowl of petals to brighten the tops of our salads. Rose petals are a rich source of vitamin C, D, E, B3 and A. In the fall, the flowers transform into vitamin-packed rose hips. It is said that 1 cup of rose hips is the equivalent of 60 oranges!
Those walks in the Yukon years ago, the walks in my own backyard and the ones to come, have always and will continue to awaken in me a deep gratitude for all that the earth offers us. What wonders lie beneath our noses? It is up to us to stop and smell them!