Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.
Featured Article: “We Are Saying It With Flowers. Loudly and Repeatedly.” By Carly Lewis
The Society of American Florists, 1-800-Flowers and individually operated flower shops have reported a significant increase in the number of flower sales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. What is driving this recent uptick in spending on flowers?
In this lesson, you will hear from four florists about how their businesses and responsibilities have evolved over the past year. Then we invite you to reflect on the actions and rituals — like buying flowers — that have brought you connection and peace during the pandemic. Plus, try a flower-related art project.
Take five minutes to free-write in your journal about your relationship to flowers.
How do you feel about flowers? Do you find them to be beautiful, calming or a kind way to tell someone you’re thinking of them? Or do you tend to avoid them, perhaps because they die in a few short days or trigger your allergies?
Have you ever sent or received flowers? Do you ever buy flowers for yourself? What was the occasion? What was that experience like and how did it make you feel?
The featured article looks at the role that flowers have played in many people’s lives during the pandemic. Before reading, why do you think flowers have become significant for some people this past year? Have you sent or received any flowers recently? Why?
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. What has Julia Gray, a florist, noticed about how people’s views on flowers have changed since the onset of the pandemic?
2. How does John Harkins use his degree in counseling while working as a florist?
3. Mr. Harkins’s father told him that “the flower business is recession-proof.” What does that mean? How does the article support this statement?
4. Some of the florists in the article talk about the joy, and the sadness, that comes with their work. What is one story from the article that exemplifies the ways in which being a florist can be emotionally difficult or painful?
5. How does Whit McClure, who runs the floral design studio Whit Hazen, understand her role as a florist during the pandemic?
6. Emily Scott, who owns Floriconvento Flowers, said, “I feel privileged to be the liaison between the customer’s feelings and the recipient’s.” What is one example from the article that highlights the florists’ role as liaison that you found particularly moving?
7. In your opinion, what are some of the things that make working as a florist unique? How has the pandemic highlighted some of the special, and unusual, responsibilities of the profession?
Option 1: Reflect on the small things that make you feel grounded and connected.
How have you expressed love, sadness and grief during the pandemic? What are ways that you have been able to connect with others from a distance and express how you feel about them?
Many of the florists in the article emphasized the ways that flowers can provide connection and support. Ms. McClure of Whit Hazen said, “Our job is helping people stay connected during this time.” And Ms. Scott, the owner of Floriconvento Flowers, said: “Even if it’s just switching out the water in a vase, that can be good for mental health. Giving flowers to people offers them a healthy, meditative moment.”
What are things in your daily or weekly life that offer you a chance to have a “meditative moment”? Is it taking a walk outside or going for a bike ride? Do you intentionally turn off your phone or read a book when you are looking for a minute of peace? Do tasks like watering plants or helping a neighbor offer you a sense of calm?
How have you found creative ways to connect with the people you care about? Do you check in with them on the phone or by writing letters? Have you sent flowers, shared a playlist of your favorite music or written someone a poem?
What is one new thing you would like to try, either to bring yourself more inner peace or to connect with others?
Option 2: Create with flowers.
If you are inspired to make your own floral project, here are two step-by-step guides that allow you to both create and connect with others:
After completing your project, write a short reflection on how it felt to create something using flowers and to give your creation to someone else. What was it like to use flowers as an expressive medium? Did you feel any of the things that the florists in the article described?
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