This month’s feature is about how the old perennials found in unexpected places are like living links to people and the past.
In Texas last March, I was taken aback by a blooming azalea, wild, fiery and magenta pink, in the center of an old cemetery deep in the woods of Big Thicket National Preserve. The flush of color was a surprising contrast to the browns and greys of the woods and headstones. I couldn’t help but think that those laid to rest there knew that the living would stand there on some March day and be reminded of life’s continuity, long after they were gone.
It’s as if the blooms whispered stories and the people who once lived there were brought into the present day. I was so intrigued by this that I brought my class there the next week to see what kinds of stories that place might evoke in them too.
And it brought up other memories...
Apple trees, daffodils and rhubarb
Stumbling upon this scene reminded of other times I’ve come across old apple trees or daffodils on woodland walks, and wondered who might have planted them there. It also reminded me of the surprise I felt when in the yard of my first apartment appeared some rhubarb that must have been planted by the old woman who lived there long ago.
A quiet refuge
Visiting that graveyard brought to mind the people who have written about cemeteries as their place of refuge during my writing workshops. Even in a busy urban center or suburb, they can find quiet, open space and walk among the trees and listen to birdsong.
The Passover tree
And that perennial splash of color reminded me of the crabapple tree in the backyard of the house where I grew up. Each spring on one particular day it would burst into a glory of light pink blossoms. My mother called it the Passover tree and would clip off a few branches of blooms and place them in my grandfather’s favorite vase
Sense of Place Tip: Discover living links to the past through perennial blossoms and blooms.
1. Walk in a cemetery and feel the quiet hush, even in an urban center. Find stories and signs of life's renewal all around you.
2. Discover planted trees and flowers in woods, backyards or sidewalks where you live. Reflect on the former inhabitants who might have planted them there and seen them come to life each spring.
3. Think about a favorite flower or blossom of your parents, grandparents or other loved ones. Bring these blooms into your home to feel a direct, living link to the past.
What are some blossoms or blooms that whisper stories or hum memories, linking the past to the present for you? Leave a note below!