Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 2 – Influences

Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.
A white flower grows in the quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.


I just came in from the garden to write and eat a little breakfast. As I fixed breakfast, I was struck on how widespread and deep the influences people have in our lives. I was looking forward to breakfast because I had a bowl of nectarines that have been syruping. They weren’t too sweet so I had them in a bowl with a little sugar overnight. (Confession: I’m still learning the idiosyncrasies of country living down to the ability of cutting fresh fruit from the pit so I was not the one who cut the bowl of nectarines) Mum could make any food into a work of art…me – it takes a lot more concentration.

I put the fruit in a bowl with a muffin I had baked and knew the only proper thing to put on top was condensed milk – magic in a can. My mum passed on the love of condensed milk. She would pour it over fruit and it became the most delicious treat in the world. Usually we would do this after we took a nap. She always had to have something sweet after a nap and that is so ingrained in me…both the love of a good afternoon nap and the necessity of something sweet upon waking. Mum would also use condensed milk in iced coffee. She hated waste and would save any left over coffee from the morning’s pot in the fridge for afternoon iced coffee. I happened to have canned ice coffee that I am eating with my fruit and magic milk so I feel like this is a complete, mom-approved breakfast.

Returning to the concept of gardening, I think mum wrote the book on gardening. She had the ability to grow the biggest, brightest flower from a pile of nothing. The first time I tried my hand at gardening, we had both bought a tomato plant. She added hers to her garden and I planted mine as the only part of my garden. Weeks went by and I started going to her house to get tomatoes because mine was still a scrawny thing while hers was reaching to the sky. After enjoying countless tomato sandwiches thanks to her garden, I had one wee tomato on mine. I watched every day to see it getting bigger and letting her know of the progress. It started to turn red and was a few days shy of being picked when I went out and saw the neighborhood geese had come into our yard and eaten my lonely tomato. Luckily mum was still producing lots of tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers so I had a bounty regardless of my failed tomato plant.
I was known for killing plants of any kind but mom would still give me the excess plants that she had grown from cuttings. My son called the collection of dead and dying plants my cemetery. Mom took African violet cuttings and started so many new plants that she exhausted giving them away and still had a million in her home. The yard was so colorful with the many flowers her and pops would plant. He took so many pictures of award winning irises and florist quality gladiolas. I was a happy recipient of cut flowers and loved having so many in my home. I hope after all these years that some of her traits have finally brushed off on me. We had our sunflowers bloom this past weekend and ate the first tomato out of our garden – the first real garden I’ve had and my first attempt after the tomato tragedy so many years ago. We’ve made pesto from the basil and had a lovely spinach salad so I think mum is guiding my gardening. Now if only she can help my Gerber daisies as they are big leafy stalks while the ones that live on at her house have gorgeous blooms.

Pops showed me the plant that lives on his porch that I call Mom’s plant. It’s a climbing flowering plant of some kind and last year it wasn’t doing so good. Pops spent a lot of time taking mom to doctors and hospitals and spent a while in Baltimore with her at John Hopkins. After her funeral, the plant started blooming and had many beautiful blossoms on it. It is her little smiles that live on through the flowers.
Mum is my gardenia. She loved that plant and the smell of the flowers was heaven itself. For a while it was so hard to find any candles that carried the gardenia scent so whenever I came across some I would practically buy them out so she would have a stockpile. I burn my gardenia candle whenever I need a little presence of mom.

It’s so lovely to see the influences of special people in your own lives. Even when someone is no longer on this plane with us, they live through the stories and through the daily way we do things. I can go through a day and see many ways I approach something, just like mum did. Being conscious of these things makes each day a little brighter because I am reminded and not forgetting that there is someone so beautiful that helps make each day of mine more special.

1 comment:

  1. I believe that our spirits are connected to nature. Look for signs of your mum in the flower's bloom. So wonderful to have her speak to you that way.