a peek inside the fishbowl

25 Jun, 2018

Moment of bliss #0023

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Moments of bliss

I am sitting on the back porch with my pen and notebook and the last of this year’s peonies. It’s hard to narrow it down to a list of TOP floral favourites, but if I had a top five, let’s say, peonies would be on it, along with violets, mini-pansies, tulips, and lily of the valley.

We have two kinds of peonies: white and pinky-purple with layers of ruffled petals.

The last peonies

The peony plants were here at the house when we first moved in, 21 years ago, and I gather they’ve been in the same spot for many years before that.

They grow happily along a south-facing wall, and as a result, they flower early. Some years, when I haven’t forgotten about them or they haven’t been pummeled by rain, I fill up all of our vases with bouquets of peonies. Sometimes I remember to shake the ants out of them.

It’s impossible not to love peonies. They are just, so, cheerful, but when I think about it, I realize that’s the reason all of those other flowers are on my list.

Every once in awhile their scent drifts towards me. The wind is softly rustling through the maple tree. The air smells fresh, and here, in the shade, I feel protected from the heat of the day. The neighbourhood is quiet for a change – no drills or circulating saws or heavy machinery today – just the occasional flip-flop of passers-by or the whir of a bike or the drone of a car. Even the birds have taken a break.

I am reminded of a promise I made to myself to live more mindfully. It’s easy to do in the shady oasis of our backyard. Even though I’m often frustrated by squirrel damage and my struggling tomato plant, or overwhelmed by weeds and watering, it’s probably my Happiest Place. Why do I have a tendency to forget this simple fact? Why can’t I find a way to spend more time here?


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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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