I have few childhood memories. Peonies are one of them. We had a whole line of them down our backyard along the fence. The backyard was immense when I was a child. It took forever to get from one side to the other. I loved to walk along that long row of Peonies and smell each one. Rub the petals between my fingers, silky and soft. Marvel at the colors. We had white ones and pink ones and really dark magenta ones and it fascinated me how different and rich each color was. How the centers were lighter than the outside edges. How when they were curled into tight balls before they bloomed, ants would roam their surface. It creeped me out and fascinated me. You always had to be careful to lightly shake them before bringing them inside to make sure you got all the ants off first. Peonies remind me of my mom. They reminded her of her mom. Maybe that’s what made her happy:sad about Peonies.
I have a red mirrored globe in my yard. I used to have a blue one. I used to have a green one. They don’t last too many years, because they are fragile. The first time I had one my husband thought it was weird. Who has one of those in their yard anymore? My grandmother had one in her backyard. She died when I was three, but I remember being in that backyard for a family gathering. There was a big shady tree and a little kiddie pool. It was very hot and the adults laughed a lot. They lived just a few houses from the train tracks and the trains scared me. Driving down the alley to their house past those tracks was terrifying. It always felt like our car was going to tip over and fall down the hill to the tracks. It was probably 8 feet but it felt like hundreds of feet. Our car was a black bug with red vinyl interior that smelled like vinyl interior smelled in 1973. It smelled like hot dust. I didn’t understand why our car was a bug. I remember staring into the red mirrored globe in grandmas yard. Or maybe it was blue. Or maybe it was green. I ate salad with marshmallows and grapes. The world made no sense. But my mother was happy.
The neighbor down the street has a giant lilac bush. She tells us we can break some off, take them home. My mother loves lilacs. I bring some home. My mother tells me I shouldn’t pick other peoples flowers. I already know this. I remember the spanking over the tulips. I have to take them back. I have to apologize for taking the flowers. I have to learn my lesson. I take the flowers back. I apologize. I take my spanking. My mother is not happy.
I cut my Dads grass. I water his flowers. I water my Moms flowers. He cut down the lilac bush. And the honeysuckle. It was sad for me. It was something else for him.
I see her lilies, both star and daisy. The Bleeding Hearts she kept getting for Mother’s day. They look like hanging sad hearts of disappointment.
The new flowers she planted after she got sick. Surprises and reminders that pop up throughout the season. Like she’s saying hello. I’m here.
She loved her yard. And she loved her flowers. In a corner are the Peonies.
I have Peonies in my yard. They make me happy:sad.
I hope my children never plant Peonies.