I took a walk around my yard this morning. The sky is heavy with the promise of rain by noon. My peonies are already sagging with the weight of yesterday’s downpour. I wish I had caged them in before they got too big, but I do love that on breezy days they are free to dance. Peonies are such an old and beautiful flower. Two of mine came from my Grandma Goodie’s farm, and they were almost lost. Grandma had given up flower gardening and I took over the lawn mowing. One spring I noticed some spikey red growth poking their way through the lawn. “Oh, yes, those are my peonies.” she said with a chuckle as she pronounced ‘peeOHNY’. It’s a good thing they were so tenacious, I dug them up and brought them home, saving them from the lawn mower and here they bloom beautifully every year.
Speaking of grandmas, many years ago I took my maternal Grandma Helen on a road trip ‘home’. Though her family moved often when she was young, she always felt home was a ranch on the banks of the Grand River outside of Lemmon, South Dakota, where her grandparents and extended family had homesteaded in the late 1800’s. We knew the farmhouse was long gone, having been moved into town years before when construction of a dam created Shadehill Reservoir and claimed the land, but we hoped to find the family cemetery to pay our respects. We stopped at a general store outside of town to ask for directions. Two fellows were playing checkers on a board a~top an old barrel (true!). They questioned our motives at first, but then decided we looked honest and pointed us in the right direction with the stipulation, that if you open a gate, close it again behind you! I still can hardly believe we found it, but from gravel road to dirt, we wound our way across rolling lands of waving grass, opening and closing gates as I drove, and there it was. High above the old homesite, surrounded by a rusting wire fence was the cemetery. We walked around the graves, reading names we recognized from family history; Smebaaken and Scholaas. Grandma read the names of her cousin Vivian’s baby brothers and spoke of what a treasure she was to her parents when she not only survived infancy, but grew up. In one corner was a sprawling lilac bush. I tugged a start from the sun baked earth, (toppling over backward if I remember right) and on the way back to the highway, filled a baggy with water from the Grand River and tucked the slip safely in the back seat. It took root at my house and every spring, my South Dakota lilac gives me more than beautiful, fragrant bouquets, it takes me back in time to that special trip with my grandma.
Mock Orange is another treasured heirloom. I brought a twig home from grandma’s farm, stuck it in the corner by my front porch and she decided that would be a good place to grow. At grandma’s house, the bush grew big and lush beside her back porch. Grandma had the best clothesline, a pulley system attached to the wall reeling all the way out to an ancient maple tree in the field. With her sheets pegged firmly to the line, flapping in the wind whipping up from the river, Grandma would sit a spell on a stool she made out of wood from the collection in her woodshed. I know how much she loved that view of cityscape and river, pasture lands and Mount Baker. I imagine in spring she lingered to enjoy the sweet scent of mock orange. For me, the scent not only reminds me of our wonderful days on the farm, but it takes me across the Cascades to Leavenworth. My great~grandpa built a log cabin where my uncle lived and aunt Fran lived across the lawn in a tiny house. I can’t recall seeing a mock orange around there, and she was not a gardener, but breathing in that fragrance on my front porch is like climbing into a time machine. I am ten years old playing hide and seek with my siblings and cousins. My sister and I visit Leavenworth often and have met the fellow who calls the log cabin home. He is the perfect person for it. When he had to take down one of the pine trees in the yard, he had it milled and used the lumber in his kitchen remodel. His love for the place makes my heart so happy!
Another favorite in spring~time is Love in a Mist. I’m pretty sure the fairies sowed the peppery seeds. Just look at the feathery foliage and how the purple flowers open their faces to the sky. Look closely, I think I see a fairy now!
I cannot do a morning walk~about without speaking to my Foxglove… oh my goodness! I brought the seeds for the wildings home from a walk years ago and sprinkled them all over. I’ve never taken the time to count the number of flowers on these tall stalks, but the bees hum and bumble in and out all day. We don’t have foxes around here, but I do love to imagine a forest glade and small red pups slipping their gloves on to dance in the moonlight.
Thank you so much for sharing my morning walk, I wish you a wonderful day!