I Wonder As I Wander, Winter 2016
A fat yellow bud is dangling on one of the daffodils. It is in a spot where by rights it should be the last to bloom as it's facing due north and is in a shaded spot. But no...it's getting ready to burst forth in joyfulness, not at all caring that it is far and ahead of the other daffodils who only this week sent up stems with gently swelling heads. Watching it there in that spot, in that shaded, cold spot that rarely gets sun, makes me wonder why I have struggled so with blooming where I am.
My growing conditions are hardly difficult...well there are worries here and there but you know what I mean. I have a decent home and have been blessed to make it as beautiful and lovely as I might with my limitations. I have a loving husband and altogether a happy abiding place. And I'll grant you I'm about 90 times happier where I am today but two years ago? In this exact same place? Grumble, grouse, weep and gnash teeth, complain complain complain...
What changed? I decided to bloom where I'm planted. I was always waiting for the next move, a move that hasn't come in 20 years and from all appearances may never come. I'm not sure why I was so certain that this was not a forever place.
Oh maybe it's because I had such high hopes and dreams when I moved here. It wasn't just about giving my children the land to play on as I'd had as a child. It wasn't just about being nearer Granny. I'd thought, I'd hoped, I'd reconnect with my brothers. I'd hoped to resolve the stony (because rocky hardly begins to describe it) relationship with my mother. The children grew quickly, oh too quickly!, and moved away and Chuck took his life, Mama and I continued to struggle, and my younger brother made it more than plain that he had no need of me in his life, not even as a distant acquaintance. Grandchildren were born and lived far away. No third generation to run and play and imagine here as I'd dreamed. And Granny died. So many dreams gone kaplooey.
We went to the mountains on vacation about two years ago. While we were weaving our way around a stony old mountain face, I spied a wildflower growing out of the face of the rock. Just that one flower, right smack in the middle of heaven knows how many tons of granite. How that seed lodged there and found enough nutrient to bloom is only God's knowledge because it is beyond mine. That was the vacation I spent weeping and moaning and being angry about how disappointed I was to find myself in this place in my life. That flower brought me up short and it made me determined to find my own way to get my roots down into where I am and bloom for all I was worth despite the disappointments and losses and hurts. It made me determined to make my home a home and to stop treating it like a temporary lodging place, putting off doing those things that would make my soul sing simply because I might move off and leave them one day. Like planting daffodils...
Daffodils are the first flower I remember taking notice of...There may have been others and knowing my Granny and her love of flowers I'm sure she bent my nose to many a blossom and introduced me to the aroma of all within her reach. But daffodils somehow come to mind as my first flower and not at a tender infant age but at about age 7. Maybe we had them in the yard when we lived at the old Windham place but we most certainly had them en masse when we moved to Powersville.
The house was old and the yard filled with lovely old plants like daffodils. Great huge King Albert ones and the mixed white and yellow doubles known locally as "Scrambled eggs" and the tiny multiple flowered ones that came five or seven to a single stem. In the summer daddy kept the yards mowed but in late winter the daffodils came up and bloomed and bloomed, a lovely surprise to me each and every year.
I can still see them and smell them, light scented though they were. The glory of them on a cloudy day was beyond sunshine and on a sunny day when they bowed and nodded over the grass at their feet they stole my heart completely. And it took me until I was in my fifties to finally plant them in my own yard. I've sworn to plant them every year, each time in a different spot, so that they will multiply and multiply and fill the yard with bits of sunny happiness.
It was at that house in Powersville, the first year, when the daffodils bloomed and filled the yard with glory, that I became fully aware of the lack of understanding between Mama and myself. My hands would grab up the flowers and bring them indoors to plunge into pint jars of water. I picked some for Mama and some for me. Mama would complain that she preferred them in the yard where they looked prettiest. Not that there weren't a thousand more outdoors blooming themselves silly. Something in me just had to bring those flowers indoors. Mama said they'd only die in the house, and it made her hate them for it, but I knew it wasn't the death of the flower that was at the root of it. After all they died just as much in the yard. No, it was something deeper, a real difference between us and I was incapable of understanding her any more than she understood me. We were no longer mother and child but strangers somehow and really it all began with daffodils, that awareness that we weren't of the same mind and heart.
I had only to come to Granny's though, to see that we were of the same heart and mind. There on her kitchen counter would be a jelly jar filled with daffodils. She understood, I could tell that she did. There was almost always some little something from the yard, a bloom, a branch, a colorful sheaf of leaves, living and breathing in that kitchen, within her vision as she cooked and cleaned. She seemed to find having flowers in the house nearly as vital as I did (and still do).
My children used to bring me bouquets from the yard. I've had many and many a bouquet of chick weed and dandelions, of tiny little Johnny jump ups that grow wild here, and a lovely lilac colored flower that is called wild orchid and of just about anything at all if it had a flower. There was always a tiny individual salt shaker that was meant just for fairy sized bouquets brought in from the yard. No complaints from this Mama over childrens' fresh picked offerings.
Our love of flowers in the house runs in the family but two times we've rued our love. In the first instance it was a pot of Paper Whites...
I looked for three days for the spoiled potato I kept smelling.
On the third day I had Amie help me look. We noted that the aroma seemed to be near the Paper Whites. It was my first and last experience with those flowers!
Episode Two came about one spring. There are wild pear trees growing on the place here. They have the prettiest blooms, but never any fruit. Katie fought through the briars to get to the trees to the south of the house and cut several branches. She proudly bore them into the house. We put them in a vase of water and anticipated the buds turning into blooms.
Ugh. They smelled horrible! She gathered them up and tossed them into the weeds.
A few years ago I had a cat, a tuxedo cat, who went by the name Pepper. If I was working in the yard, there was Pepper. He was the only cat I've ever known to love flowers. If there was a bloom anywhere near us, Pepper shoved his nose into it and inhaled deeply. He loved nothing more than to have me bend a pliable stalk down to his level so that he could bury his nose in the very center of the bloom. And in the spring when I planted, Pepper stood by and supervised, occasionally lending a hand...er hm, a paw...and patting a seed into the ground. Pepper remains unique and memorable among my pets. He was short lived but for the two or three years he graced this earth, I enjoyed his company in the yard.
Misu is not garden minded. Maddie is convinced anything fresh and green was meant for an especially nice bed for herself. Blossom, despite her floral name, seems to have no special affinity for flowers.
Speaking of pets, puts me in mind of the many cats and dogs I've been blessed to love. A lot of them unfortunately, but their personalities stay with me even yet and as I said, I was blessed to love and be loved by them. Not every pet touched my heart but those that did shall live on and on in memory.
I was privileged with many to be with them at their passing, as difficult as it was to experience. Several came to me at that time, seeking comfort and assurance and I did my best to let their passing be peaceful and comfortable and filled with love. Others seemed to have a premonition that I didn't share and came to me for unusual but special attentions and then disappeared forever.
For all that we always had pets all my life, I think I was an adult before I found myself with a pet that was my own. I confess, the cats stand out as the loves but I'd have always said I was a dog person despite this. Not sure why, when I recall how simpatico so many of the cats were.
John and I went over to Roberta to the hardware store about noon one day. Lovely thing, noon time in a small town. I opted to stay in the car. Katie and I had been texting back and forth for an hour or so at that point and I was loathe to leave the conversation. With a little one in the house, I take the opportunities the girls have to text to fully enjoy them.
Anyway, noon time in a small Southern town usually is about smells, specifically the aroma of smoky barbecue or frying chicken or both. It's a homey smell to me. But it wasn't smell this time that snagged my attention, it was sound: somewhere a carillon was playing. I don't know just where the sound generated from, but I sure did enjoy it. Usually there is a carillon at one church or another.
I'd heard one near Christmas time as I drove through another small town while doing errands. I managed to find the church that time and sat in the parking lot and just enjoyed it. I wasn't able to go in search of the church this time, nor really to hear it very well because there is a major roadway right next to the hardware store, but I listened as hard as I could.
It made me think of how much we love to drive down to Ormond by the Sea and hear the carillon played at the Catholic church there...
At one time we had the same here in our little town, a carillon I mean, and the lady who played it was quite elderly but she showed up every single day and played. John suggested back at Christmas that perhaps it's all sound systems and CDs these days and maybe he's right but I prefer to think of someone dedicated showing up to play each day...perhaps a romantic view but more lovely than the idea that someone stops to push a button, or worse, that it's on a timer.
Thinking of Ormond by the Sea, I drifted into thinking of our lovely trips down the northeastern portion of Florida's coast. The names of the towns suit me: Summer's End, Hammock, Ormond by the Sea...
Hammock actually refers to a geological fact more than it does how one might occupy oneself near the beach but it sounds like summer and lazy days doesn't it? A hammock in this case is a portion of mainland that is bordered by a river on one side and the ocean on the other. It's not an island, being firmly attached to the mainland but it is divided by water.
Hammock is an especially nice place. While there are many winding dirt roads that lead to the ocean, A1A runs through the coastal forest. On the western side, I get glimpses and peeks of a huge lake of water but I've yet to explore it and see it up close.
That's not at all uncommon in the northern part of Florida. We drive through all sorts of towns built on or near lakes and the glimpses entice me. Moss hung oaks block most of the view but the blue of water can be seen here and there.
Sigh...there's nothing like thinking of summer vacation in the midst of winter rain is there?
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