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by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 24, 2013) — Almost five years ago, one of my harp students gave me a lovely cyclamen plant for Christmas.
To my great regret, house plants normally have not fared well under my care, despite my best intentions. I cannot recall any which lasted more than a few months, regardless of how easy its maintenance was purported to be.
I can grow big pumpkins, Italian oregano and lots of tomatoes, but not house plants. Once during the summer, I had put the cyclamen outside and discovered that it did not like the heat. Its leaves wilted, and I was afraid that I had killed it.
But the cyclamen proved to be different. It was happy to sit in a sunny window and be watered twice a week, producing big, full, patterned green leaves and delicate red flowers at the tips of tall, stately stems with curved necks like a swan. Over the ensuing years, its beauty graced my life in alternating cycles of many leaves and no flowers and fewer leaves with many flowers, both open and in progress.
Nothing could stop this beautiful living thing from flowering year-round, not even when I forgot to water it.
However, last summer, something happened to the cyclamen plant. One by one, its abundant foliage began to wither until each leaf sagged and turned a sick yellow color before seeming to drop in exhaustion and die away. There were no more flowers rising up to greet the sun streaming into the window, and only a stump remained of the once-copious member of the Myrsinaceae species.
I tried introducing some garden soil to revive it, as I could not afford to buy potting soil, to no avail.
Eventually, in August, with only two virtually dead leaves left and a stump of what had been the main life stem of the plant, I put the cyclamen out on my back deck, too upset to watch it breathe its last.
The two leaves eventually fell off, and the flower pot sat on the deck with some herb plants, unresponsive to the still-warm New England summer sun and rain, now its only source of water.
During this time, we waited for the bank to foreclose on our unfinished home with the storm-demolished gazebo and leaky barn left from better days more than 150 years ago. I imagined moving to a place unknown, clearing off the deck, and emptying the cyclamen pot in the process.
Then one day I noticed what looked like two very thin stems popping out of the soil near the stump which had once been the source of so much beauty. Convinced they were probably weeds, I didn’t pay much attention, until one day, it became clear that at least one of the tiny growths was a plant stem daring to raise itself in defiance of the death sentence to which its predecessors had succumbed.
Alone in the world, the stem grew and turned into a small leaf. Directly behind it, the second stem that I had thought was a weed did the same. Delighted, I dared to hope that the cyclamen could regain even a fraction of its former glory.
I hadn’t realized that cyclamen plants can reach a dormant stage during which the best thing to do is to stop giving it water, take it out of the sun, and replenish it with new potting soil. In its five years of life under my roof, it had never gone dormant.
Fall arrived early this year, with temperatures in the 30s overnight in late August and early September. To protect its frailty yet promote every chance for its continued blossoming, I brought the cyclamen inside, keeping it near the sliding glass door for maximum heat and light. It continued to grow, and soon, stems and leaves were coming from everywhere, with flowers showing their dainty heads tentatively, then more surely as the plant came back to life.
The cold and wind have already been unusually strong, and we have seen snow twice. At its position on the floor near the window, though, my cyclamen has bloomed. I have not forgotten to water it twice a week and turn it every so often so that all of the leaves will be exposed to the sun, its energy of life.
My cyclamen is like my America…living, growing, strong, beautiful, but beaten down by a near-fatal disease. America is today like the cyclamen of last August: barren and overcome with near-death following its long illness at the hands of those who would “fundamentally transform” her.
But America, like the cyclamen, is coming back. We can feel it. We can see it in the people’s demands for accountability after witnessing so many evil and violent blows made against the land we love. Only We the People can revive her, and revive her we are, with the sweat from our backs and the toil of our labors to cure her long, protracted illness at the hands of socialists and communists who wanted her to die.
In mid-October, we learned that the bank had withdrawn its foreclosure action against us.
Today, we see a vibrant cyclamen with a flower just about ready to open, even though it is only 20 degrees outside.
Resurrecting America is up to us. All it will require is a little sun, water, and tender, loving care.