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Gone! A Farmer’s Market without flowers. No gifts from nature patiently waiting to be arranged, put in water and bring a room to life. Half of the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market had no stalls today. The 101 is still closed, so there is no access to Santa Barbara from the South.

Buying flowers is a Saturday morning ritual for me. I have been over the holiday look for several weeks now, looking forward to refreshing my vases and angling towards spring. When it’s over, it’s so over.  The available flowers change with the season, of course. A few people like the diehard,  people- pleasing sunflowers that smile back at them all year-long. You can find these flowers in any grocery store. But those year-round blooms long ago became boring for me. I no longer smile back.

Living in Japan part – time has accentuated my appreciation for the seasonal. Year-long availability for a flower or a fruit makes it much less interesting to my eye. Each season has its long-awaited seasonal celebrity appearances. There are the first flowers of spring. The cheery yellow forsythia branches are not particularly beautiful, but they have the honor of announcing that spring has arrived. A few weeks late the pinklicious Japanese magnolias demand attention. Sweet peas follow soon. In Japan, they sell them with long curling tendrils. So much lovelier than just the straight stem.  Let’s not forget ranunculus, flirty and fabulous and overwhelming in its choice of colors and its lighter than air texture. 



ranunculous 2



Japanese magnolia

I can go to a flower shop in my neighborhood every day in Kyoto and find different blossoms to draw my attention. Small and dramatic large cut branches are available as flowering trees and shrubs come into bloom. One stunning branch can transform an interior.   During camellia season, I can buy large branches, each holding many blossoms, buds and leaves.  It’s inspiring! Each day I feel the anticipation. It’s a small miracle to see a favorite blossom come around the yearly cycle again. What’s more remarkable, they are mine to bring home and savour.



Nishiki Market flower shop, Kyoto

Today, I’d hoped for an abundance of Dendrobium to kick off the CA spring season. I am particularly partial to an acid green blossom. Today, the usual bunches of spring tulips from the growers in Carpinteria were missing, as were the sassy snapdragon and the first ranunculus and ( border on boring) tulips. There wasn’t an exotic lily in sight. It was like missing a favorite relative or friend from a family dinner or party. The dinner goes on, but a force of life is missing.



So in a small way, I personally felt the impact of our recent natural disaster. We all take certain things, people and places so for granted in our lives. It’s when they’re missing, that we realize what they’ve added to our life.

I’m fortunate enough to request, “Please come back soon.”


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.

One Comment

  • Melanie Bales says:

    ESP Dianne! Today I went to the Farmer’s Market and finally asked the manager of the market (the booth with the green awning) what had happened to the flower vendors who were at every Market only suddenly to disappear around Thanksgiving. They usually occupied a corner space, very visible, and sold Oriental and Asiatic lilies among others. I surmised that they would be back at some point, but alas, they did not reappear. Apparently they are NOT coming back to the Market for economic reasons I didn’t quite understand. Sad! I hope another flower vendor will take up the challenge of selling their wares at some point, but meanwhile I miss the lilies!