Monday, August 6, 2007

Grandmother's Garden

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers over the past week. They are deeply appreciated.

I just got back from a quick trip to Kansas over the weekend where my family history is as rich as the soil my pioneer forebearers tilled. One of the houses we visited holds very dear memories for me as a girl -- the house of one of my sets of Great Grandparents. My great grandmother had the most wonderful garden out back -- filled with hollyhocks, bachelor's buttons, roses and more. Those memories inspired my latest Ebay offering -- a trio of ACEOs pictured here. They also inspired a column on Grandmother's Garden I wrote a few years ago:

Grandmother’s Garden

“The garden and the garden gate are often prominent objects in the picture of home memories, not for the Mauds who have met their lovers there and plighted their juvenile affections to each other, but because some of the sweetest memories are associated with flowers and fields and shady trees and green velvet lawns.”
from The Hearthstone; or, Life at Home, by Laura C. Holloway, 1889

June 1898

Fondest greetings to you, my dear friends! Do you hear the creak of a porch swing? I am savoring its gentle sway in the soft rose-scented breeze wafting its way around Grandmother Olsen’s porch where I sit writing to you. Memories of my girlhood surround me. . .

On bright June days of long ago, I slipped my hand into Grandmother’s as we walked past the front door propped open by the cast-iron bulldog doorstop I loved to play with, and pushed through the screened door onto the breezy porch. I would clutch her hand more tightly, querying her as to our destination, endeavoring to keep my balance while my short four-year-old legs struggled down the porch steps. At her reply that we were going to cut flowers for bringing into the house, my nose twitched at the thought of the heady fragrances awaiting me in Grandmother’s flower garden.

On one such trip I asked her if she would make me a hollyhock lady; another summer day, a leaf boat. Grandmother always nodded her “yes” and often replied that, if we were quiet, we might even catch a flower fairy making herself a dress of a hollyhock blossom or a tiger lily.
Then, as we pushed through the whitewashed garden gate, startled butterflies taking wing before us testified to the treasures within. On either side of the path, daisies nodded their innocent greeting, bachelor’s buttons beckoned and bright red poppies waved. As Grandmother drew her shears from her apron pocket, the shimmering beauty of nearby buttercups inevitably sparked my query of, “Grandmother, are they made of butter?”

A little farther down the path, the pungent grape-scent of tall purple iris triggered my asking Grandmother if we could have a glass of juice when we went back indoors. Between answers to my chatter-box questions, Grandmother always hummed a tune under her breath as she pinched off dead blossoms and cut fresh blooms to fill her vases. She obviously delighted in her task, savoring each flower she came to in hovering, bumble-bee fashion. Then, in unhurried fashion, as we headed back indoors, arms filled with sweet peas and lavendar, heliotrope and gilly flower, Grandmother quoted some trifling poem her garden brought to mind. I leave you with one of my favorites by Charles Lamb:

“In my poor mind it is most sweet to muse
Upon the days gone by; to act in thought’
Past seasons o’er, and be again a child;
To sit in fancy on the turf-clad slope,
Down which the child would roll; to pluck gay flowers
Make posies in the sun, which the child’s hand (Childhood offended soon, soon reconciled,)
Would throw away, and straight take up again,
Then fling them to the winds, and o’er the lawn
Bound with so playful and so light a foot,
That the press’d daisy scarce declined her head.”

Affectionately yours,
Abigail Bradshaw

Copyright, 2000, 2007, Judi Brandow, all rights reserved
Life is short! Smell the roses every day!

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