Few things in the world are absolutely perfect. I use this description rarely with respect to produce, meals and flowers but every once in a while we create, see, taste or feel something that is near perfect. But first, let me digress a bit. My fascination with food, flowers and entertaining stems from the fact that it goes back to our earliest ancestorsâ€¦ Think of a group of orangutans (people of the forest in Malay or Indonesian) gathered around a brilliant bunch of ripe bananas. Or the first time a human asked another out on a dinner date (complete with wild boar carpaccio killed with a yoyo as an appetizer). Yoyos were based on an actual weapon used in the Southern Philippines in case you are scratching your head thinking Marketman has gone positively mental. Finally, when did someone decide that adding flowers to a dinner table would lift spirits and elevate grazing into a festive occasion? Since we live life through our senses â€“ sight, smell, taste, texture and sound all contribute to our experience at a meal, gathering or party.
Personally, I have always thought that a plant or bunch of blooms in a home makes a real and palpable difference. Some may think it extravagant, perhaps even wasteful. To me, they are the ultimate luxury â€“ beautiful and fleeting, brilliant one moment, dead soon after. But they rank higher on my list of non-essentials than an expensive pair of jeans, a fancy watch, or a big car. Even in college when I used to work in a fast food joint and was responsible for cleaning out the lard from deep fryers at the end of a busy day (it was truly disgusting and I didnâ€™t eat fries for several years afterwards) I would go back to my apartment and on my desk would be a fresh leaf or a single long stemmed tulip â€“ whatever was in season. I set aside about $3.50 every week to buy a leaf or bloom when I did my groceries. I figured an hourâ€™s wage was worth a week of visual satisfaction while I hit the books. I donâ€™t know if it helped, but I did graduate magna cum laude. Go figure.
So back to the concept of what is perfect. Last Thursday I went to the Dimasalang Flower Market to get flowers for two birthday arrangements and as I was leaving, I saw some milflores (hydrangeas) blooms for sale. After some bargaining, I got about 9 stems for PHP300 or USD 5.50 (close to the current US hourly minimum wage). Back home I pulled out a light green colored opaque vase, filled it with water, cut an inch of off the stems, stuffed five blooms into the vase and voila! â€“ a near perfect arrangement! The color of the blooms went perfectly with the Venini vase (the subtle light pale greens of the immature flowers, lighter blue for others, purplish tinge on the more mature flowers are not too evident in these photos). The proportion of flowers (hardly any leaves) to the vase was also very appealing. The preparation time was less than three minutes and the estimated cost â€“ about USD3.50 (for five blooms only) was about the same as I used to spend as a struggling college student 20+ years ago. The arrangement has been on our dining table for the last two days and it will last at least another 3 days (for a total cost of 70 cents a day). It looks brilliant at night and during the day. It is as close to “perfect” as I have seen in the past few weeks.