Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Musings discovered in a journal
In my grandmother’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you.
Can I find them again? Those rooms, as they exist in my memory, full of the smells of childhood, full of running, full of hiding, full of pouting, full of screams and laughs.
A giant toad lived out in the garden, amongst the day lilies and nasturtiums that grew at the foot of the lemon tree. A great grey and green thing, with shining eyes and a fat ruby buried deep in his head. If I could only catch him, he would grant my wish by the power of that ruby. Or he would give me the jewel, belching it up like the girl in the story whose every word showered flowers and precious gems on those around her.
At that house, my grandmother created life all around her; her garden overflowed with green and growing things, the flowers of my youth that I crave—roses, nasturtium, calendula, grape hyacinth, cosmos, calla and canna and easter and day lilies, dusty miller, hydrangea, pinks, fuschia, potato vine, camellias, gardenias, Shasta daisies, hens and chicks, impatiens. The oleander I hated for some reason. I thought it ugly and out of place. It is only recently that I have been able to appreciate the beauty of an oleander bush in bloom, its lush and softly drooping swaths of blossoms. When I was allowed to choose a flower from the nursery, I chose and planted cocks’ combs in vibrant jewel colors.
And then there were her magnificent trees. The birch in the front yard – that lovely, graceful lady surrounded by boxwood who oversaw our picnics on the front lawn. The peeling paper I was sure would be useful if I could only determine how, the crumbly little seed men, the delicate quivering leaves.
The sweet gum that dominated the back yard was a marvelous spreading thing that held a swing and that created the most delicious sun-dappled shade over the back lawn on summer days. Its branches were mingled with the branches of a plum tree from the neighbors’ yard. It was tall enough that Gramma and Grampa had to pick the plums for us, which made them a special treat, just like the jam Grams made from the fruit.
On the other side of the back lawn was a giant avocado tree that, unfortunately, never really fruited. Grams had planted it from a seed she had sprouted in her kitchen and by the time I can remember it had grown taller that the shed by which it stood.
The shed was scary and fascinating. It smelled of old wood and fertilizer; it was dark; it had spiders, including black widows, which crawled out of Grampa’s wood pile behind the shed. I stood in constant mortal fear of black widows and so stayed away.
The wood pile was enormous. It covered more space that it rightly should have. If you stood near the door to the shed and looked toward the pile, it stopped, properly, at the neighbor’s fence. If you looked straight into it, though, from the side of the shed, under the plum and the sweet gum, you saw the true size of it. The wood went back into infinity, deeper and darker every moment. A portal to some other where. Dark and disturbing. The birthplace of black widows.
The second back lawn housed an apricot tree and an orange tree. Small and neatly trimmed.
Apricot jam is shining golden ambrosia to be eaten reverently and by the spoonful. On toast with butter it brings upon ecstasies.
The side yard, deep in the back, overgrown with large, tropical looking plants was another portal. A liminal spot, fairies dwelt there, and if I could only pick the right time, I could pass through into the land where the stories were born, because they happened there and were real there.
Dusty miller is a kitten, and I loved to stroke it. Soft like rabbit ears and a frosty silvery color.
Strawberries. Tender jewels hidden beneath the leaves. You must approach quietly and reverently
You must clasp the berry tenderly in your fingers and twist. Take a moment to gaze at it lovingly before passing it between your lips, like a kiss.