This was the early Friday morning of the twenty first day of March and I took a day off from work. I met Redcotton, the flower of the month, the first time this year.Redcotton, don’t you know you’re on the spot right now?
What do you mean?Well, you’re everywhere, along the roads, at midlevel, in the parks, among the concrete blocks, in every photo blog and even next to the sewage ditch here!
Now I see what you mean.
They say you’re exceptionally red and brilliant this year and they compare you with the exotic red maple leaves.Maple? I don’t know she’s got red flowers, this is new to me.
Didn’t father red cotton tree tell you it’s the maple leaves that turn yellow, then orange and finally blood red in autumn?No! Why should he? You never see me in autumn.
But why shouldn’t he?I don’t get you…mm… but never mind.
Alright! Alright! Don’t get mad at me. I think of you being the icon of the red cotton trees, your succulent green buds bursting through every single branch of the towering tree trunk and your red leathery petals shimmering like fire in the misty morning air. Some people even call you guys The Hero Tree. Nobody beats you right now. So I thought old father tree trunk must have told you everything.
Me turning into tiny seeds and flowing with the morning breezes with the lumps of silvery threads? That sounds cool but how does that happen? Never heard of this.It just happens. Believe me.
Hard to imagine though.But year after year, century after century, that’s how you guys are and how you will become later.
I’m totally content with who I am.Oh! By the way, your leaves are really handsome!
Leaves? I won’t say those few yellow wrinkled dry leaves that always shed when I start blooming are handsome! They are pathetic… and I must rethink your aesthetic level!
Unbelievable! I’ve never seen anything close to that but I don’t mind if they were.It’s getting late and I have to finish some work at home and email a report to my boss later this afternoon. I’ll be back Sunday afternoon to take some pictures of you. You’re a real stunner and special. For many years I kept thinking that I must capture your sophisticated beauty with my un-sophisticated camera whenever I walked past you. This year, I must put thoughts into actions. Promise.
That’s very kind of you. I’m blushed. See you then.See you.
That same evening, the sky was slit open from north to south by the unexpected lightning and torrential rains poured in to scrub the land together with the gusts until dawn. The sun came out as if nothing had happened over the night.
I kept my promise and visited Redcotton the next day afternoon but I cursed the relentless heat from the sunshine. It was a different scene under the three tall trees by the ditch. Not many red flowers were still on the branches and some of them only survived with 3 or 4 petals. This must be the work of the rainstorm the night before. Most of the flowers scattered around on the concrete, failing to know that in a normal year they would not wither on the branches but descend to the land as if they were plastic flowers. This year, their promising displays were cut short without a single warning. There won’t be many silvery threads in the air later in the year as well.
I turned around just to see a bicycle swooshing past me. Oh yes! That was a bicycle lane. I could hear squish…squish… as the wheels of the bicycle ran over the flowers. I couldn’t tell where Redcotton was as every flower under the trees just laid there without a hiss. I was sorry that we didn’t have a “proper” farewell goodbye.A familiar sentiment rose from my chest to the eyes as I strolled around this little graveyard of red flowers. It’s a blending of bitter sadness and joyful admiration of life.
Redcotton, I think, like all of your kind you’re beautiful, attractive and unique as you’re fully aware of. No floral contenders can match you in the early springs of this city. However, there’s something I’d never tell you two days ago and I’m glad that you knew nothing about the Tree more than you knew about yourself. To me, you finally turn into a beauty after you have landed on the ground, this year, the many years that passed and the many years that are to pass.
Only from a close distance can one see the fine filaments at the centre of the flower that lead to places where seeds of the size of sesame grow. You give those humble little seeds a spectacular crown before they are formed. I very much hope that they know this fact.
Your bright red colour fades into different hues of orange and brown and your fleshy petals shrink and fold into different shapes and forms, waving at the downing sun with grace and hallowing the beautiful span of time you have lived through. It’s splendid. This is the time I really admire you but I’m sure you’ll never appreciate that. It doesn’t matter, does it? I only know you’re proud of being one of the magnificent red flowers that wake up spring from her sleep every year.So, is it dumb and naïve not able to see past what we are now and what the world we see is? Or is it a blessing just to be content with what we have in life and enjoy what we are made for? Will Redcotton believe that she will turn into hundreds of silvery threads in June and that the green leaves suck up every single drop of nutrients from the soil and sacrifice themselves so that she can be one of the many stunners that only survive a few days? Will she believe that I admire her more after she withers? And will she speak with me again next year if I had told her the truth this year? I doubted.
There is a Chinese saying - 井蛙不可以語於海者，拘於虛也；夏蟲不可以語於冰者，篤於時也；曲士不可以語於道者，束於教也！So, can I say 春花不可語於果者，緣於命也? So, am I still a frog that doesn’t believe there’re oceans, a summer worm that doesn’t trust rivers freeze in cold winters, and a man who doesn’t take a straight road to a place after having lived away tens of winters and having travelled hundreds of thousands of miles? The answers are pretty obvious, yes, yes and yes. But will I be happier if I just believe I'm a frog in the well? Will I worry less if I merely believe the rivers always flow? Or will I pick up more fun and excitements if I keep walking down a meandering path? And what more do I need to convince myself flowers will ultimately turn into seeds after seeing all sorts of fruits and seeds?I'm not sure, but does it matter?
What if it matters?
What if I regret one day, one final day?
What if I regret one day, one final day?