When the graphic designer asked what I wanted my book cover to look like, I immediately envisioned a poppy. Like most flowers, the poppy’s delicate petals and refined stems seem to resemble a woman’s physique, yet at the same time, the crimson color symbolizes the strength, courage and passion women with Fortytude possess.
And so, on the cover of Fortytude resides the poppy—in all its strength and beauty.
When I first arrived in Tuscany a few days ago to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary with my family, I noticed the abundance of crimson-colored poppies sprouting amidst the rolling, wheat-covered hills. As the sun was setting the evening we arrived, my dad and I stood in front of the villa and watched the hills turn different shades of gold as the poppies displayed their regal features.
“Look,” I said. “It’s the flower I chose for the cover of my book.”
Little did I know that this very flower, which not only symbolized Fortytude and for many, Afghanistan’s drug war, also (as my dad pointed out) became a symbol of the deaths of the brave soldiers whose lives ended during World War 1. The poppies’ majestic crimson represented the blood that spilled over the battlefields, something about which a WW1 Canadian brigade doctor, Major John McRae wrote about in his poem, In Flanders Fields:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
This poem paints the poppy flower as a familiar emblem of remembrance and sadly, its very significance seems to have dwindled in our country. Perhaps we can bring it back and remind ourselves of the heroic lives that were lost during WW1. And of course, without undermining the significance of WW1’s emblem, we women of any age ought to look upon the poppy as reminder of our Fortytude!
Now, as for the other wonders of Tuscany, I wonder how I could transform pasta, red wine, and gelato into emblems of my own Fortytude. Is it possible?