The Morning Glory

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This month, Singaporeans are captivated by the Trumpet Tree, also known as Pink Poui, flowering across the island. They are like our Sakura Trees, those blooming in Japan right now. I am captivated. The pink flowers on the trees and those fallen on the ground paint a fresh colour on our city landscape. Looking at these flowers, I think of the colours from flowers such as the Bougainvillea, Ixora, or the often overlooked Morning Glory. They flower all year round. Which may be why we are not as captivated. But we should be. I am fascinated by the Morning Glory. I cannot remember when my fascination started. I noticed them growing wildly on the fences of my secondary school. I had a vague idea the Morning Glory bloomed in the morning, then closed and shrivelled up by noon. That the colour of their bell-shaped flowers is purple was not something I took particular notice of. Because they grow wildly, I took them for a common flower.

When I started my first job in an advertising agency, for a short while, I stayed in a friend’s flat. My friend grew Morning Glory. They were not doing well. I helped out by creating a wire fencing for them to crawl up. They started to do better. Before long, there were flowers after flowers each morning. I remember having breakfast by the balcony and looking out at a view framed by purple flowers. I think it was the start of my special relationship with the Morning Glory and the colour purple. When I moved into my last house which I stayed for almost ten years, I told my contractor that I wanted to cover my fence with Morning Glory. He asked, “Where are we going to find the Morning Glory? I know a special breed of Morning Glory which only grow in temperate climate. I cannot guarantee they will survive here in Singapore.” I told him I wanted the very common, our very own Morning Glory.

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We dug the roots of the Morning Glory from public premises and planted them along our fences. Then we waited for them to crawl up the fences. To our immense delight, they grew wildly and thrived, forming a canopy of green leaves and purple flowers around the house. In no time, they would greet us each morning with a sea of purple flowers. By a certain time in the morning, depending on how strong the sun or how heavy the rain was, the flowers would start to wither. Yet by late morning, we could see the buds of new flowers that would bloom the next morning. A friend was inspired by the Morning Glory on our fence enough to write a poem. He saw the Morning Glory as ‘Happy Optimists’. I never saw the Morning Glory as such. If anything, I see them as ‘Brave Optimists’. The Morning Glory reminds us how fast our moments of glory can fade. How transient our youth is. ‘Youth has its hour of glory. But too often it’s only a Morning Glory, the flower that fades before the sun is very high.’

Because the Morning Glory blooms everyday, we can take its beauty for granted. I have learned not to. To me, the common Morning Glory in Singapore is not common at all. They are our pride and joy, a Singapore beauty. They greet us every morning without fail and colour our mornings with hopeful joy. While they bloom briefly, they bloom gloriously. Each flower faces the sun with courage and determination. As if telling us how blessed we are to have another glorious morning. It is now the month of April. Yet each morning of any month is the time for the Morning Glory. Our helper Siti told me after we have moved from the house that she missed the Morning Glory most. For me, I missed the mornings as I drove off to work, turning to take a look at the Morning Glory. Their beauty is an inspiration. A reminder to make each day count. To glow and shine as brightly as I can.

Screen shot 2014-04-18 at AM 08.52.15

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