Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Most Beautiful

The Most Beautiful is a Japanese movie from 1944. Girls have left their homes to live in an optics factory supporting the war effort. Each girl, having left the soil of her birth, has brought with her soil from her home. Each girl's soil is placed in the vegetable garden of the dormitory. When they long for home, they go out and stand on the soil of their home and their birth.

Newlin and I have moved so much. When we moved from the home we built in Southern Chester County Pennsylvania, we dug up an enormous sage plant, or at least as much of it as Newlin could fit in a planting tub we had, and transplanted it in the soil of Milford Delaware. When we moved to Ridgefield, we dug it up again and, leaving it in the tub this time, as its permanent home, it moved with us to Boothwyn Pennsylvania and again here, to Norwalk Connecticut, where we replanted it in the ground at 20 Hudson Street.

Every year I pruned out the dead branches. Every year, wherever we went, the sage bloomed, beautiful pale purple blooms. By this time the plant measured almost three feet high and at least three feet across in any direction - a truly heroic plant.

When we moved from Hudson Street to our current home in the rectory of Grace Church, we transplanted it into the soil under the kitchen window of the rectory. This time, the sage has not weathered the move. This year there will be no profusion of purple blooms.

I thought at first the entire plant had died, but I see there are about 15 leaves on three or four thin stems that are fighting to remain strong and alive. Not enough plant to support flowering, but still I will cut out the dead wood for the sake of the part of the plant that wishes to live, no matter the circumstances.

And when I grieve or rejoice, or just plain miss having a home of my own, I will remember The Most Beautiful - I will stand on or near whatever bits of the soil are left from our home in Southern Chester County, putting down what roots I can until I'm uprooted once again to live and even thrive in another place.

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