I know it maybe a little late for talking about Christmas gifts but this one just keeps me thinking about my childhood. The gift is really nothing of great value and would not have any meaning unless you had grown up in a plant and flower loving family. My older brother who is now in his 60’s sent me a package in plain yellow envelope with a simple letter. The letter was short but made tears come to my eyes. The letter folded in half and on the interior page was 8 small hand-lettered packages. Each packet contained seeds. Really who in their right mind cries over seeds, I guess I do. As I read the letter from my brother it informed me that many of the seeds inside the letter were seeds from plants that grew in the yard of my childhood home. The home in Boulder, Co. sold in 1994 and I had already moved here to West Virginia.
My garden loving brother had for several years lovingly transplanted, split, graphed, stolen, seed headed many of the flowers from my mothers gardens. So when the house that we had all lived in almost 40 years sold the flowers had moved to his home. He worked for years to cultivate and love them into mature plants and trees. Years passed and I had only randomly thought about her gardens and the love that my mother had for her rose gardens. It was a ritual to go see the Home and Garden show in Denver every spring. We talked with vendors and eat fun food and spent just a little money on fresh plants for the yard that every year. I had forgotten about many of them, until this Christmas.
While talking with my close friend Alex recently, I asked him about his collections and why do we even have collections. We debated about the need for all of us in some form or another to have physical things to recharge our memories. That some objects can bring about very strong memories responses, good and bad. That as humans we hold on to things that are meaningful to us. In my case my brother had the for thought to save plants and seeds. I on the other hand was raising a young child and taking care of a farm full of animals. I had no time to worry about what was being left behind at the house at the time.
As I opened one of the packets, a flood of memories flowed through my mind. The long hot Colorado summers with a yard full of flowers, bushes and trees. Where every other summer the money plant bloomed in beautiful purple flowers and by fall the flowers had turned into seed pods. I would ask my mother to pick and play with them with great joy. The seeds inside these paper pods look like penny’s between thin transparent paper. I would spend hours pealing the pods apart and collecting the seeds for play money or tossing them into the wind to sprinkle the world with new plants. I loved these flowers and missed them later in life. My eyes tear up at the thought of asking my mother if I could play with the pods. I am sure the she knew that I would eventually bring a huge spray of the flower pods into the house for her and I would also destroy most of the others as I “played” with the delicate paper pods.
The other packets held the seeds of other memorable flowers such as Oriental Poppies with Their huge orange flowers. My Mother had a bird bath garden surrounded by the blazing orange blooms. I loved that they were the only flower bed in our yard that never needed weeding. The flowers were so tightly packed that you could not see the soil between stalks. I loved to fill the bird bath and water the poppies. We watched as the huge buds would form in the heat of summer and as if they knew the hottest day of summer they would pop open shining their faces back at the sun. Their would be hundreds in bloom at once, drawing bees and birds alike. I would watch the stalks all summer as the blooms would fade and the petals fell to the ground. I would wait until the tall thin stalks dried and the seed pods would open and collect 4 or 5 in my hands and shake the tiny black seeds into my hands. Hundreds maybe thousands would fall from the hallow shell into my sweaty palms. Amazed I would wonder why one flower could produce so many life-giving seeds.
The letter also contains Sage, with the purple flowers that love the hot weather of Colorado. The White Anemone that grew under the eve of the car port along with Larkspur and Columbine. Chives and Garlic that grew out back in a garden that my brother started while I was in 8th grade. He was 25 and just beginning to discover his love of gardening. All these flowers/ plants are over 30 years old and I knew them day in and day out. I know them as well as I still remember my first address and phone #.
As I fished up my conversation with my friend Alex, who collects toys and other nostalgia from our childhood, I realized how wonderful it is to travel back to those places and times. We talked about shucking peas, how many times we had watched Batman, what songs and music made us remember the “good old days”. I shared with him my plan to not only plant these seeds but share my love of gardening and flowers with my son and grand-daughter. They are the 3rd and 4th generations of my family to see, love and pick these flowers. The seeds were not only a gift from the past but a gift to the future. The future that started with old seeds and will end with this Grand MaMa having little hands bring her bouquets of fresh flowers from my yard.
I can never express how wonderful my brothers gift is, but I thank him for holding on to a part of my childhood that I hand almost forgotten. I love you Bill Lowrey and am so glad you are my brother.
The future is all held in the power of just one tiny seed.