“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
My mother told me a story about the first time she ever received flowers from a boy. She was still living in Korea at the time, (and though I’m not sure of the age, I’m guessing late teens or early twenties,) and was briefly hospitalized due to some illness. Around this time, there was a young man who had interest in her and often would visit her at work or ask her to go out, and though my mother appreciated his interest to a certain point, she said she knew from the very beginning that he was not the guy for her.
He was very handsome, she said, looking mischievous while we talked around the dinner table. He was one of the handsomest men I had ever seen, and he was really nice. He even came from a family with money. But there wasn’t much inside his head.
My mother at that young age believed that getting flowers from a man was the height of romantic behavior. She dreamed of getting a bouquet of beautiful roses from the one and they’d fall in love and run off into the sunset. Or something along those lines.
It was one day when this handsome, rich suitor without-many-lights-on-in-the-attic came calling to her hospital bed. He timidly came through the door, bearing a great bundle of flowers, their stems held tightly in his hand as he nervously greeted her, his face peering out over the petals. He was sweet, mom said.
But my mother is not one who minces words. She doesn’t waste time either, and not especially when it concerned matters of the heart. This poor foolhardy boy had unwittingly woken up the dragon. My mother so firmly dreamed of getting her first flowers from her true love, that the image of this young man who hitherto simply had been a cause for affectionate exasperation had now forever ruined that fairy-tale moment and to say my mother was displeased is an understatement of the severest kind.
I don’t know if the next part of the story is true, but according to my mother’s masterful telling of her tale, the young man ran out of the room, the roses in bruised disarray on the floor where my mother insists she had thrown them after telling him to get out and get a life. I think he was crying, mom mused as she washed the dishes. How could you! My sisters and I protested, partly horrified, partly amused.
Better to let them down hard so they can move on instead of being dragged around by their feelings, mom said. Besides! Her tempter turning for the hotter, he gave me those flowers!
Yes, those flowers. The impetus for such outrage.
How funny that flowers can arouse such strong feelings. Common daisies conjure images of summer days in the meadow (whether you ever have experienced making daisy chains on a sunny afternoon or not, isn’t it easy to imagine at the sight of those little, white petals?), tulips fill us with the expectation of spring, and the red rose means sensuality, love, and romance.
To me, flowers mean the promise of something new. Winter is long for me, and I find myself feeling blue on cold days. My mind tends to dwell on the melancholy as the sun sets early, watching it sink while my breath turns into mist in the frigid air. I forget that springtime will ever come until those first buds struggle to open up. Fragile and quiet, a single, early spring bloom seems to awaken sleeping flowers in my own heart.
Do flowers exist just to show the reckless beauty of our world? Those frail things with no logical meaning, that do nothing but flirt with hummingbirds and bumblebees and make us smile and cry.
I think I’m not alone in thinking this; A hobby of mine is collecting quotes, and I’ve come across so many about flowers I wondered which to put into this post.
“The earth laughs in flowers,”
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“A flower blooms for its own joy,”
“Love is like dried flowers sometimes. Even though you watch the petals shrink and change colour, you cannot help treasuring them”
“Wildflowers aren’t meant to be cut and tamed. They’re meant to be loved and admired.”
“There’s a word in Japanese for being sad in the springtime – a whole word for just being sad – about how pretty the flowers are and how soon they’re going to die.”
“We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them. We say we love trees, yet we cut them down. And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved.”
“I have laughed
more than daffodils
and cried more than June.”
This is Kukka Flower Cafe. They have three locations so far, but this is the one at Gwanghwamun (광화문). It’s pretty and quaint. The things here that I love best are their teal cups and sprigs of baby’s breath on the tables. They teach classes on flower arranging and you can sign up for classes at their website here. There are the cafes as well as an offline store where they only sell flowers. You can also order online and have flowers delivered.
I chose this cafe for a visit with my Half-German Half-Korean friend Daniel.
I have found that those who love flowers genuinely seem to have a kindness that is patient and gentle. Perhaps it comes with the time it takes to grow plants and learning to wait for them to bloom, or considering just how much water to give, how to handle them, offering just enough sunlight, paying attention to their silent needs. Daniel has shown me a new way of loving people by the way he loves flowers; that patient, gentle kindness can be and should be used in our every day interactions.
It seems there’s much we can learn from flowers. I think I’ll pick up a few roses on my way home tonight.
I hope you visit Kukka Flower Cafe and snap a few photos when you do; tag me on instagram @sincerelybeckyw – I love to see another Cafe Hunter on the prowl 🙂
Location: 1, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu | 2f
Hours: Tues through Sun 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Closed Mon
Plastic Free: Yes (except for a sheet of plastic for flower wrapping)