There are few things I miss about Midwestern weather. And given this summer, I blow the earth of Seattle a kiss each morning as I greet another day that will, perhaps, rise to somewhere in the mid-70's.
But there are, actually, a few things I do miss. I miss towering thunderstorms (sans tornadoes). I miss sultry summer nights, when the heat of the day lingers in a light sheen of soft moisture on one's skin. I miss peonies.
The peonies of my childhood blossomed in flowery bowers that often took up an entire side of those old frame two-story houses that also boasted a front porch complete with swing. My mother could fill vase upon vase, bowlfuls for special occasions, of huge pink and white peonies, and still the bushes sagged with heavy blooms.
A couple of years ago I spotted a peony for sale at a local nursery and, having a huge empty terra cotta pot (must have offed its previous occupant) available, I went for it. Year 1: One of the buds that it carried opened. The other fell off. Year 2: A couple more, nothin' to write home about. Year 3: This year. Five or six large buds. And then the coldest spring and summer ever. Most of them opened just enough to show what they could do, given half a chance, and then gave up the ghost in sad, rain-spotted brown misery.
Except this one. In the company of a pot of Lewisia, which likes the weather out here. I told the peony I was sorry I didn't live in Peoria.