My Ernest Hemingway Begonia

My dear friend David has given me twenty-one begonias.  Some are newly propagated babies, but most are beautiful adults.  And they clearly have an attitude.  They don’t hesitate to let you know that they know they are gorgeous, and they seem to sprout new leaves just to prove their confidence.

Their self-assurance is not surprising.  They come to me from pampered lives in David’s greenhouse, where a computer regulates the window shades, temperature, water, and mist.  Once the begonias are residents in my house, though, they lead a more Spartan existence.  I feed them twice a month from spring to fall and often talk to them, and I’m attentive.  But misting?  Never.

This spring my care apparently had not been enough for Freddy Two, the offshoot of David’s Freddy One.  My Freddy had seemed to sag during the winter, and his shed leaves made him look vulnerable and sad.  So I told him, “I’m sending you to camp,” and I set him on a white wicker table on the porch, where he could get fresh air.  Sure enough by July he’d perked up like a robust camper with pink cheeks.  A frog might have mistaken Freddy’s new big, green leaves for lily pads.

Yesterday when I watered him, I noticed that he’d taken still another forward step.  As recent evenings have dipped into the forties, Freddy’s leaves have bronzed and thickened, tough as leather.  Almost overnight he’s changed from a merely handsome plant to a manly Ernest Hemingway begonia.  And his stunning leaves remind me of what Hemingway said about the world breaking everyone, but many are stronger at the broken places.

Certainly, the adversity of cold weather has tested my Freddy, but he’s adapted and proven his resilience.  His lovely bronze leaves would never have emerged in the paradise of David’s greenhouse.  So maybe a little hardship isn’t bad.  Maybe it encourages mettle and beauty.  Maybe it helps us become more than we ever thought we could be.

8 Responses to “My Ernest Hemingway Begonia”


  1. 1 Optictwet January 25, 2011 at 7:08 AM

    I follow your site to wish you continued success.

  2. 3 Kristin von Kreisler December 28, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    I just went to your Hazard Hot Sheet again and left a comment, but it took me awhile to see how to do it. Maybe that’s why others haven’t commented. Maybe you could write a blog about how to leave messages and how important the dialogue can be?

  3. 4 Green Knight December 28, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    And here i was hoping that the begonias had extra lobes on their leaves, since Papa collected polydactylic cats on his spread in Key West. Now i must listen to the Dead playing “Scarlet Begonias” to achieve closure. Nice bloggo stuff, KvK! i look forward to reading more; this is just first toe dipped into the water…look over past ramblings on my Hazard Hot Sheet, where i’ve gotten worldwide hits but almost no comments — me jealous!

  4. 5 Mike December 6, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    I want to visit David and beg for some begonias, too! Finally I live in a house with windows facing almost all directions, offering multiple opportunities for giving plants the conditions they desire. Most likely I can provide the “hardship” you gave your plants, but it comes at a time in my life where I have been able to slow down enough to probably “over” care for my plants… perhaps the lesson for me will be to learn even more about what plants want. You – you just keep teaching me things. Thank you!

  5. 6 Mike November 15, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Reading your blog entries makes me feel as though I’ve had a visit with you. Wonderful!

  6. 7 Lisa Di Nicola` October 29, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I hope I can become strong like your beautiful Begonia.

    How inspiring!


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