Saturday, July 7, 2012

Early July

This week has been a busy one with work--a new batch of residents and recently saying goodbye to the old, Independence Day and a birthday.  Every year, these events all come together.  Unfortunately, writing must be put on hold.  So here are some photos of the flowers I got from my kids with a few more from the garden.  And I have added a short piece that I recently wrote for a writing class.  Unfortunately, my garden is not as productive nor as exuberant in its floral display as my mother's.

The house I grew up in smelled of flowers in the summer, freshly picked from my mother’s garden.  Poppies, roses, iris and lilacs were among her favorites.   We had hundreds of lilacs of every shade, singles and doubles.  Also hundreds of poppies and iris.  She loved the darker shades of both.  Her garden was one of her joys.  But it wasn’t just flowers for their beauty and fragrance.   

As much as she could, she would work in the garden, raising fruit trees of all varieties, vegetables from carrots to zucchini, and melons and strawberries.  Summer was a joy as we worked in the dirt to bring forth the produce.  And then, relax under a tree with a fresh picked piece of fruit, or simply lie on the grass and watch the clouds through the green veil of leaves and branches which swayed in the wind.  Even as a child, I remember feeling that the backyard was a piece of heaven, fenced from the world by lilacs and roses.

In the fall, as the wind turned cool and the leaves from the trees fell to the ground, we would sweep them up to compost to feed the flowers and fruits and vegetables in the year to come.  And sometimes the house would begin to smell of wood pruned from those trees which we burned in the fireplace as the nights grew cooler.  In the fall, too, my attention turned to my studies.  The house was full of books, nearly every wall was covered in bookcases.  And the books added their aroma to the mix of fragrances in the house.  Both my parents had read many of these books, and as a child, I began to add to the collection of books in the house.  

Winter smelled of homemade soups, junipers or pine or spruce and wet wool after coming in from the snow.  My mother regularly made barley, lentil or pea soup which was so filling on a cold day.  She often would prune branches of the evergreens for their beauty and fragrance which we would add to the fire sometimes in the evening.  And the smell of the smoke would mingle with the smell of chocolate or cider and cinnamon in the evenings when there was time to relax.

As the weather became warmer, crocuses would begin to pop up through the snow and then tulips and daffodils, which would find their way to grace jars and pitchers in the kitchen and living room with their beauty.  Spring was often rainy and the smell of the rains permeated the air to mix with the delicate scent of the spring flowers.

The fragrances of flowers or evergreens or homemade soups still take me back to the comfort and security of my childhood.  I recall it as a simpler time, a time I often long for, but to which I can never return.  The house has been changed, remodeled so that it is not the same.  The yard subdivided.  A few of the trees and lilacs remain, though it is far from the same.