I was walking down the long corridor of our little downtown’s Sunday Farmers’ Market when a couple of topiaries caught my eye. There on Jennifer Carruthers’ booth stood everlasting flowers!
All of a sudden, I was transported back to my early childhood days when we would high off to Baguio on Easter week. One reason was to get a break from the sweltering April heat in Manila. The other reason was, well, there was not really much of another reason! It was hot. We only had a few days off from school.
One of the rituals the day after the long drive through the perilous winding drive up the Cordillera mountains was a trip to the local market. Looking back, it was the quintessential farmer’s farmers’ market, with farmers coming down from their mountainous enclaves to present us with their best greens and succulents. There were also the fishmongers, the butchers, the blacksmiths with their hand-tooled wares, and baskets so novel and intricate, my mother would have such difficulty deciding which to purchase.
And then, there were the flower vendors. Their display abounded in everlasting flowers. You name the variations in presentation, they had it. They came dried or fresh. They came in bouquets, vases, leis, crowns, bunches, and even statues and crosses. We would purchase a few pieces that my mother would bring to the church on Good Friday and adorn our vacation home’s altar for Easter.
These flowers had no fragrance. They had tight-knit petals, which, I was convinced, numbered in the thousands per flower. They came in yellow, mustard, burnt orange, deep red, copper, magenta, and all other permutations of the warm palette. I did not particularly find them pretty nor decorative. When I looked around the crowd in the market, I was always puzzled why they had such a devoted following.
Now, I’m staring at Jennifer’s creations and I find them pretty. So retro. Very Fall, I said. She nodded in agreement. I decide to purchase one for our home. She said that they are called “straw flowers” here. She mentioned that if cared for properly, they can last up to 5 years. She used a treated moss base that would prevent the ball from falling apart. I told her what they’re called in the Philippines. Maybe they’re a variation of the same kind of plant. They sure look similar. And they seem to last forever.