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Looking for Crocus

My mother died last spring.  It is difficult to say, but we were never really close after I left home to go to graduate school.  I wanted her to call me more often but was never sure what I wanted to say, and I’m sure she wanted to call me but couldn’t find a way through to do it.  I have some of her recipes now and a handful of notes she wrote to my children years ago, but there’s not much more now that she’s gone.  But I will always remember my mother in the spring.  She had a particular fondness for spring that I think said a lot about her eagerness to throw off winter sooner than everyone else.

My mother loved crocus shoots.  No matter where we were, she would always point out the “green, growing things,” as she called them.  It got to the point where I would look for patches of green through all the snow that piled up near our house in Michigan in late winter, hoping to catch a groundhog-like glimpse of something that promised a proximity to spring.  My mother grew the daintiest white Lilies of the Valley in the back yard, next to my father’s spiky chives.  They were the perfect pair.

Flowers meant something to my mother.  She had loads of “Four O’Clocks,” twin rose bushes, one white and one red, and she loved flowering shrubs:  Rose of Sharon, Forsythia, Lilacs.  She bought dozens of tulips in Holland, Michigan and planted them in the front yard.   For my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, I bought them a red bud tree, one of the most beautiful of the flowering trees that will survive Michigan winters.  In the spring, that tree blooms with flowers that are caught somewhere between lavender and fuchsia.  The small clutches of flowers are set off against the nearly black bark of the slender trees and they will always catch your attention when you drive by houses with red buds planted in the yard.  There is a wonderful drive which we took on Sundays when I was little along the Red Bud Trail where you can watch these beautiful trees in bloom in groves along the river not too far from our house.

It’s funny now when I think about her, as I look for crocus and green, growing things.  I never thought of my mother as an outdoors type.  She grew up in a big city and even though she spent much more time in our small town than she lived in the city as a girl, I never associated her with gardens, yet now, as I think about her, I don’t think of alleys and concrete, I think of shrubs and flowers.  There was something about the change of winter into spring that captivated her.  She didn’t drive when I was really small, so maybe she looked forward to walking on clean sidewalks that weren’t icy-challenging or maybe she tired of the extra blankets and sweaters that we needed to stay warm.  In my thoughts, I see her face now looking into the sunlight, waiting, watching for some sign that winter is finished and the gray skies are behind her. 

My mother was 92 years old when she died.  Our relationship was cluttered with sarcasm and disappointment scattered over the years much the same the way closets get when you don’t take the time to sort things out.  But I will look for the crocus every spring and think of her.  I can still smell her Lilies of the Valley and I will always look for green, growing things through the piles of snow.

 

Comments
13 Comment count
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Beautiful

I have a handful of things that belonged to my mom, too, including her recipe cards.  I treasure them.  

This is a lovely piece.

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Spring

Thanks for sharing. I can still remember my young son sniffing the air and saying, "It smells like spring." Indeed it did.

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And it "feels" like fall

We had the same expression about spring, but it "felt" like fall.  It also smelled like snow where I grew up.  Thanks for reading!

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"Our relationship was

"Our relationship was cluttered with sarcasm and disappointment scattered over the years much the same the way closets get when you don’t take the time to sort things out.  But I will look for the crocus every spring and think of her.  I can still smell her Lilies of the Valley and I will always look for green, growing things through the piles of snow."

A beautiful tribute to your mother!  I can smell the Lillies all the way from this side of the world.

Great writing!

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Thanks!

I'm glad you came by to read today, Rina!  That lovely fresh scent of the Lilies of the Valley stays with me.

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I just realized that my

I just realized that my mother's anniversary is just around the corner.  It's been four years now, I think about her every so often, sometimes I look at her photo and chat with her.  Like your situation, my relationship with her was not rosy but I caught myself in the nick of time and made up for all the years that I allowed stuff to crowd my closet but  I don't have a scent that reminds me of her... :(

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Powerful, Anne.

The first sentence of the portion that Rina quoted speaks to me. Wonderful.

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That wasn't easy

It was only recently when I cleaned out my front closet that I realized I never did that with my mother.  In all those years.

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Recipe Cards

@ Jane - I love her handwriting on the cards.  And the typewritten ones are really great too.  It's a tremendous connection to the work of her hands.

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It is a difficult thing to

It is a difficult thing to feel and to admit, when a mother-daughter relationship doesn't match up to the Hallmark Channel. It may be more common than you think. I love the way you remember her through the reference of spring - the very symbol of fresh start, new life. This was lovely. Thanks for sharing.

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What makes it difficult

What makes any relationship difficult is when you want it to be different but you just don't have the skills to make it so.  Thank you for reading.  It's always nice to see you.

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What a beautiful, heartfelt

What a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to your mother.

My 100 year-old grandmother passed away, last March.  I can't go past pink clover flowers without thinking of her.  She loved them.  If I ever have a home of my own, I will get some to remember her by.

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Pink Clover

Does pink clover have a scent too?  It sounds divine.  I wanted to plant Lilies of the Valley but I have yet to find seeds.