Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Memorials: Running on Psychic Time

An Ontario town debates maintaining a floral tribute, memorial to a local teenager.

Memory can be so unpleasant, so inconvenient, downright unattractive.

Just this week newspapers reported on a new pharmaceutical that may numb and shrivel the memory of traumatic events. This particular drug may be new but it’s an old endeavor. Anybody ever heard of wine?

With flowers, people take a wiser approach. Rather than squelching memories , flowers revive them, but in a new, bright, and conspicuously formal way. By their tenderness and transience, flowers both re-enact the experience of loss and buffer pain. 

This week a Canadian newspaper reports one town’s debate over a floral tribute to a teenage girl who was murdered two years ago. After Robbie McClennan was killed in Dragonfly Park in 2002, flowers were laid at the park entrance.

The Orangeville (Ontario) Bulletin reported yesterday that “a request to remove the flowers came to council in June, when East Entrance Beautification committee member Dave Ferrier said the park needs to shake the image of murder.” A public meeting on the topic was cancelled, and both the city and local newspapers received heaps of letters on the topic. “These flowers are not placed there as a reminder of murder,” one citizen wrote, “but as a memory for the grieving family and friends.”

Ferrier had proposed “a policy which prevents people from marking tragedies in this manner for more than a year.” The mayor has suggested permitting the flowers to remain “until after the murder trial comes to a close.”  I don’t believe there’s any way to regulate how or how long people will “mark a tragedy.” Custom may dictate that a widow wear black for a year, but the heart (another word for memory) keeps a schedule of its own.


Roadside Memorial, Seguin, TX

Photo: Julie Ardery

Posted by Julie on 10/27 at 10:48 AM
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