I realize I’m late…. again. Please forgive me… Living has a tendency to get in the way of…. well… my life some days… I’ll explain it all in a later post….
Memorial Day only meant one thing to me many years ago…. it was a day off from school! We really didn’t do much back then because my dad always worked. I was always just glad to have an extra day off from school. It also meant that the end was near! There were only 2 or 3 more weeks of school left and then the summer would be on. As I got older, we would usually take the day and drive down to the beach… usually down to Plover Drive where we always hung out. It was always so hard for me to focus on school from this point forward. The air was too warm, the anticipation of carefree days too great… and once I had made that first trip down to the beach, well, all bets were off then. Even though the ocean water was still really cold at the end of May, we didn’t care. Just salt air and sand… and no thoughts of math or science or history or French class. What a great feeling.
As is the case with most things in life, the older I have gotten the more reflective I have become about the significance of days such as this. Living in a military town it is also more prevalent in my day to day life I’m guessing than those more removed from such things. In any case, I so admire those that serve in our military. The sense of purpose they seem to have in their lives… the contribution to the common good… going beyond themselves. We should all strive to be that way in our lives I’m thinking… regardless of our lot in life. How can we not be inspired by those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. I know I certainly don’t deserve that… but I am so grateful to those that are so willing…
At the back of my parent’s yard was a row of trees. I’m not sure why they were put there but they delineated the boundary between their yard and the dirt road that ran back to the Rescue Squad. At the base of one of these trees was a great big ole entanglement of vines. I’m not exactly sure how the vine got around this one tree and not the others, but back behind this clump, across the dirt road, was a hundred foot long blanket of this stuff that covered the ground all the way up to the edge of the pine thicket we just referred to as “the woods”.
For a large portion of the year these vines were nothing more than that…. just vines, appearing to consume everything in their way as the crept out from some undefined core in every direction possible. But this time of year, very small, very fragrant blossoms start appearing…
The smell of honeysuckle let me know that spring was here and summer wasn’t very far behind. I can remember walking out the front door of my parents house and the fragrance of those flowers filled the air from quite a distance behind the house. I use to pull the little flowers off and pinch the end off, pulling out the little string like part that contained the little dew-like droplet that was so sweet on my tongue.
Then summer arrives… and I’m at my grandmother’s house… I open the back door… it is a hot, humid July afternoon. The air is dead still and the weight of the moisture in the air makes it feel like you are walking through knee-deep mud in a sauna. As the door opens, the fragrance is so strong it almost knocks you right back into the house. The blooms on the gardenia bush are brilliantly white and sending enough fragrance into the air to fill the nostrils of people 4 blocks away even without the benefit of a breeze to carry it along.
Every time one of these fragrances appear in my life, I can’t help but go back to those places. I was fortunate enough to catch a sniff of honeysuckle last Saturday…. ahhh…. springtime! Can’t wait for the gardenias to show up!
I remember seeing the picture when I was a kid. It was one of those small black and white ones with the uneven edges. Posing in the picture was a woman, a man and 3 young girls all standing in front of a tree that looks to be about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. The faces of the woman and the girls look familiar as they are my grandmother, my mother and my aunts back when they were in their early teen years. My grandfather, also in the picture, died some time not too long after the picture was taken so I never got to know him.
This story though, is about the tree. It was a pecan tree. Fast forward many years… to a time when I was a young child visiting my grandmother in the spring and summer. We would sit other branches of this huge tree… taking in the refreshing breeze or shelling butter beans or shucking corn or snapping snap beans… whatever the task of the day was. As the summer ended and fall came and winter approached we would find ourselves out there in the yard again…. wandering around, looking among the fallen leaves and twigs for pecans. Some years there would be more than we would ever be able to use and other years there would barely be any… but still we would walk every inch of the yard looking.
My dad loved that tree. He always wanted to have a pecan tree at his house too, so one summer, he found 4 volunteer pecan trees that had sprung up in my grandmothers yard and brought them home. Unfortunately, I was a bit reckless with the lawn mower and so it was a real struggle for the trees to survive. As a matter of fact I believe I mowed all four of them down at one time or another. And I won’t even go into the “discussions” my father had with me about my lack of attention to what I was doing.
But even with my negligence, somehow a couple of the trees managed to survive. As time past, my father eventually had one of them removed. I had grown up and moved away by the time the remaining tree was producing pecans on a regular basis. I never had the chance to sit in the shade of that tree and shell beans or shuck corn but I did get the chance to walk around and look for fallen pecans with my dad before he past away. Every time I see a pecan tree…. it just takes me back…. and makes me smile.