“Who would have thought it possible that a tiny little flower could preoccupy a person so completely that there simply wasn’t room for any other thought?”
This quote was attributed to Sophie Scholl, a German woman whose public resistance to the Nazi occupation cost her life. The ability to focus on flowers during such a desperate time speaks volumes of the power of nature’s beauty to distract and provide pleasure in even the most dire situations.
Though my need for diversion will never match Sophie’s state of crisis, I, too, am fixated on a petite petal. The little object of my desire has been described as “tiny, but charming,” and is likely blooming in a yard near you.
Though the grape hyacinth is blossoming in all its glory, it will not solve the problems of the world. It won’t even win a prize for the tallest flower at the Agricultural Fair, since it grows to a miniscule height of only six or so inches.
But it will delight us early in the season with those bulbous blue or purple flowers that, yes, do resemble a bunch of grapes. Even better, they ask very little of us in return, needing no care and coming back stronger everyear. They are so low-maintenance that the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) called them “so reliable and undemanding that they are taken for granted.”
While some take them for granted, others take them for dinner. Grape hyacinths are members of the genus Muscari, which are eaten in Italy andGreece. Though grape hyacinth would make a great name for a new Kool-Aid flavor, they are eaten soured and not sweet.
Pickled purple will tickle you pink! The purple flower’s bulbs make for a super salad. In fact, this food is so favored that Slow Food has boarded it on the Ark of Taste, a repository of rare and endangeredfoods. Don’t prepare this delicacy at home, as I am not sure if our local varieties are the same as the European edible ones. That’s sour grapes for us, I guess.
If you can’t eat them, at least use your other senses to enjoy them. Besides delighting the eyes, these flowers give off a fragrance. In fact, the name Muscari comes from a Latin word that meansmusk. Take a sniff and get a whiff!
And no matter “what is in a name,” don’t let it fool you. Grape hyacinths are not hyacinths at all, but rather can be found biologically classified in the Lily family.
Grape hyacinth may be small, but do pack a punch. They will grace the grounds with flowers for three to four weeks. So their season is short, but sweet.
Until we have more beautiful blooms, these festive flowers will fill your mind and fill your senses, bringing all that is good in the world. Forget the terrible and let flowers ease your spirit.
Take to heart the words of another young woman who witnessed the worst and the best in this world. It was Anne Frank, who advised us to “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown.