The Flower Brigade


I’m remembering the profusion of an August evening in Paris’s lush Luxembourg Garden. There were fuschia blossoms on stems and stalks and shrubs, at dog, kid and adult eye level. Purple hearts woven with greenery, giant hedges of poppies and the spread of white bells.

In the last hour of the day’s light, lovers of books were reading – some aloud to friends, others to themselves. Lovers were draping over each other, kissing. The sun was beginning to drape over the water, seeing its own reflection in the surface.  Tourists were finding the Senate the grandest, most resplendent background for selfies or for their family pictures, but even shouted directions were swallowed by the serenity.

This multitude had engulfed the guard in front of the Senate. He was clenching, holding the machine gun awkwardly with his bulked-up nerves.  He was shoring himself against the setting sun, the waters, the herbs in this place of formal beauty. The flowers outnumbered him by at least 5,000 to one. The flower brigade was waging peace, making the army man feel very out of place.  It wasn’t paranoia – he was overwhelmed by all this beauty.  Amen.


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