5. Choose a plant and make up a symbolic meaning for it
Poppies, poppies! Poppies will put them to sleep.
The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz (1939)
If you go outside of the city Almaty in your dusty SUV, you’ll bump along a tree lined road past villages until you come to the steppe, and if you’re there at the right time of year, you’ll discover the Kazakhstan steppe gloriously red with poppies.
Poppies are used to convey imagination but also sleep and death, with red poppies symbolizing pleasure. There are two images that come to my mind when I think of poppies—Dorothy asleep in the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz, and the poppies of Kazakhstan. The first will, of course, always evoke it’s traditional meanings, but the second inspires me differently.
Yes, there is something soothing about the poppy fields of Kazakhstan, even lethargic, but to stand there before them, with the sun beating down and the wind blowing about you, there is a peace that is less calming and more forceful. There is a serenity the moves me to action, that encourages me to run forward into the wind. There’s a peace that make me believe that all things are possible.
To me, poppies are a symbol of freedom.