Martha is simply nuts over peonies: she has approximately one million varieties on her Bedford farm and throws an annual Peony Party for friends, members of her staff and the actor Chevy Chase. Last summer, she even invited her housekeeper’s extended family “to view the peonies,” which made even more sense than it already does because her housekeeper is Chinese. And peonies originated in…China!! (Martha’s no dummy. It’s gestures like these that probably keep poor Lily Mei from clawing her eyes out.)
Read My Housekeeper Lily Mei and Her Family Come to the View the Peonies immediately. And then later you should feast your eyes on MY peonies (below), of which I have two varieties that I call Dark Pink and Light Pink. They came with our house and bloom every year in late April and early May. I submit that Martha’s fascination with peonies is not entirely insane; they ARE striking, particularly the paler variety, which is almost tragic in its delicate lusciousness, like nature’s answer to silk chiffon or a giant scoop of strawberry ice cream. They make me feel calm and optimistic and undeserving (and now I want some strawberry ice cream, dammit), as they ask for very little and keep coming back year after year.* They are a big fat signal that summer is around the corner and that, as you well know, is the best news one can hope for.
*Sort of like my husband, who selflessly took this ridiculous photo even though passersby snickered at us and then packed me off to a Nascar** race without him.
**Yes, Nascar, where I noticed that both peonies and Chinese people are in short supply, but big fat signals of summer are just about everywhere.