If you don’t mind, let’s begin here with a little general vocabulary drill; specifically, some synonyms for “tough.”
How about . . . durable, hardened, hardy, resilient, robust, rugged, stalwart, steeled, stout, sturdy, strong, tenacious, unyielding, vigorous . . . for a few? And with just a little more time spent with my thesaurus, I could continue resolutely reciting a litany of toughness terms.
But here’s a noun you won’t find lurking among the flinty descriptors above: pansy.
Along this line, a couple of pansy-based adjectives are available. Pansified. Pansied. I even wondered about coining another term or two. Pansy-ish. Pansitious. Nope.
But I’m beginning to think that the word “pansy,” which has come to be associated with the weak and “sissified,” has been much maligned. The term may, in fact, deserve a place of honor right alongside the toughest toughness terms we might dredge up.
It’s my actual pansies, the little blue and yellow flowers occupying flowerpots strategically located in our yard, that have made me reconsider my position on the term.
I like flowers. I inherited my mother’s love for green and growing things, but not her green thumb. For years now, I’ve been torturing a pot of ivy in my study, my care evidently subjecting that poor plant to a long and lingering but inevitable death. Anyone who can kill ivy has no business attempting to grow more complicated plants, but I try.
Every year, just before our first freeze, or, more often, just after the first freeze coupled with my procrastination has wiped out my least hardy plants, I move the survivors into the shed/greenhouse I built in the back yard. And that’s when I set out some pansies.
When the weather’s getting colder. When most other flowers give up and die. When fancy bloomers frost up and melt away. When other plants go in, that’s when the pansies come out. A rose may be “a rose by any other name,” but a pansy? Tough as nails even by its misappropriated name.
This year those little flowers have not only stood up to frost, they’ve endured what our local weather-folks call spring-like conditions. If that term conjures up in your mind birdies and butterflies, you don’t live here. Think instead about parching wind, choking dust, and nary a drop of rain. Couple “spring-like” with a few serious freezes, and still my pansies soldier on. Those cute little flowers are slandered by their very name.
One more time Heaven smiles as we’re confounded, our “wisdom” turned upside down. Little flowers out-last and out-perform far showier varieties. Little children become guides sent by God to lead stodgy adults back to what is truly precious in His kingdom. Little faith-filled ladies on walkers humble us with the power of their prayers. Over and over again, God uses “the weak to confound the strong.”
You’re invited to check out my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.