Nostalgia at its most sentimental is encapsulated by the old-fashioned little flower the pansy, a flower hybridised from wild violas. This picture is of pansies in our vegetable patch, glowing warmly in the light of the late afternoon sun.

The name pansy comes from a French word for thought. This association is mentioned by Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, when grief-stricken after her father’s death, she hands out imaginary flowers, including pansies, adding “that’s for thoughts”.

This association with thought is taken further and became a common theme in Victorian greeting cards, where the thoughts are for others – the implied sentiment being “thinking of you” or the reciprocal “think of me”.

My South African grandmother treasured many keepsakes from her beloved mother, including a collection of greeting cards that her mother had received over the years. Some had been pasted into a scrapbook, and others were stored in small boxes with other keepsakes. I am fortunate enough to have inherited some of these mementos that call back the long-gone homes of my ancestors and the loss of what can never be recaptured. Below are my inherited cards featuring pansies.

Pansy greeting cards

In a word: nostalgia.

 Posted by Carol at letting nature back in