⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

The insignificant little lives

Wild flowers and weeds

Words & Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

天氣漸暖,回過神來,路邊的野花已經盛開了。並不是在泥裡或花叢裡,而是在柏油路的狹縫裡,就這樣怡然自得地生長出來,展開著一張笑臉,迎向春日的陽光。對植物不熟,我只認得蒲公英。某天把兩幀野花的照片上載到自己的Instagram帳號,數分鐘後短訊就來了:「照片的植物好可愛,那是野路菫及繁縷呢。」發訊者是陶藝家朋友矢島操。在矢島操造的陶器上常繪上各種的野花,我常笑說她是在大都會裡收集自然的人。後來我總算又認識了白詰草、野薊、髭剃菜,還有在日本有個可愛名字「Pen Pen草」的薺菜。懂得了它們的名字,散步時也多添了不少樂趣。

好幾次跟新相識的日本朋友聊天,被問到在家裡有否插花,我說不,猶豫一下,回道:「但我會插雜草。」大家聽罷似乎深感共鳴,立時興高采烈地談說野花雜草的美來,春季時看花,秋季時則有狗尾草與倒地鈴,隨處可見,隨時賞心悅目。每次散步時看來它們燦燦爛爛,也看著它們隨著季節而緩緩枯萎。

花店內鮮花雖美,然而路上細小的花草,將生命的堅強與稍縱即逝靜悄悄地安插在我們生活裡,是一種截然不同的美。

Quickly reacting to the warming weather, wild flowers have bloomed without warning. Refusing the usual routine of flourishing from soil or flower bed, the wild flowers calmly sprout from the tiny gap between asphalt pavings and welcome the sun with a bright smile.

With my limited botanical knowledge, the best I could do was to recognize the face of dandelion. I shared two photos of wild flowers on Instagram the other day, it took only a couple minutes before I received a message commenting ‘You have captured such adorable plants in your photo. Those are viola yedoensis and chickweed.’ It was a message sent by a Misao Yajima, my potter friend. I sometimes jokingly describe Yajima as a person who collects nature in metropolis for the drawings of wild flowers that can often be seen on her pottery. Soon I also learnt to recognize white clover, Cirsium maackii, Hieracium japonicum, and shepherd’s purse that is more commonly known in its cute Japanese name ‘pen-pen grass’. Being able to connect the wild flowers with their names undoubtedly brightens my strolls.

When meeting new friends in Japan, quite often do I come across questions asking whether I do Ikebana (flower arrangement) at home. After replying a ‘no’, I hesitated and said, ‘Actually I do arrange weeds.’ My words seemed to have aroused an echo, then an enthusiastic discussion about the beauty of weeds unfolds. Spring is the time for appreciating flowers; green foxtails and balloon plants that can be easily seen during autumn are equally exquisite. I see them thriving when strolling, and I witness how they wither slowly when their season ends.

Flowers at a florist are fresh and beautiful, but the insignificant little flowers and weeds along the streets represent vigor. Together with their sense of momentary, they bring to our lives a distinctive style of beauty.