There is a pile of laundry on my living room floor, a bunch of dirt under my fingernails, and deep contented sigh in my heart of hearts. Evidence of a long weekend well spent.
My mom and I took a little junkin’ road trip to Nacogdoches, then Conroe, then the big antique fest in Warrenton (more about that in the whole separate post that it deserves). We hung out with my aunts and grandmother. We visited old haunts, told well worn stories and made a few new ones. It was all very good. Very very good.
The big hooptie doo in East Texas this time of year is the Azalea Trail. The idea is to drive around old neighborhoods and salivate over well manicured lawns, and white picket fences behind billows of white and pink flowering clouds.
I swear, you ride past houses like that, and you get to thinking that if you only lived there you might never raise your voice or lose your keys or find a petrified peanut butter and jelly sandwich under your son’s bed. You think maybe life in that place would be just a gnat’s wing away from heaven.
I know, I know, people who have wrap around porches have their problems too, but the difference is, they get to think on those problems while swinging and having a glass of sweet tea. I’m certain that makes it better. Certain.
Anyhow, while we were riding around, my aunts and mom and grandmother kept pointing out other flowers and calling out their names. “Goodness, look at the size of that hydrangea!”
“Isn’t that Bridal Wreath?” “Oh the Camelias!” “Look a Confederate Rose!” “Have you ever seen Rhododendrons that color?”
The feeling those long unspoken names inspired was the same one I had after being in Japan for a week, getting off the airplane and seeing signs and hearing words in English; a deep breath after being underwater too long.
In an instant, I was a little girl, helping my Momo water her flowers. Some of the names she knew, and told to me. Others she made up or just called, “Aunt Vivian’s Shrub” or “Polly’s Flowers,” after the people who’d brought over a paper towel-wrapped bulb or a cutting from the their own gardens.
My Momo didn’t go down to Lowe’s or Red Barn when she wanted a new something for her yard, she just asked a neighbor for a piece, stuck it in her magic dirt and it grew. It grew 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide and flowered all year ’round. Or, at least that’s how it seemed to me.
So, despite the fact that I have no magic East Texas dirt (I have 1/4 inch of topsoil over 50 feet of Central Texas Limestone), I came right home and bought a Wisteria and a Carolina Jasmine, and planted seeds too – morning glory, zinnia, larkspur and coneflower. Don’t you just like the ring of those names? Go on say them again, “Wisteria. Jasmine. Morning Glory. Zinnia. Larkspur. Coneflower,”
Of course, every year, about this time, I get all good intentioned about gardening and then by about June, I start forgetting to water stuff. So, we’ll see if any of it makes it.
I also spent so much time gazing at old homes and imagining the lives lived inside and the days gone by, that I came home with a fresh desire to write fiction. I’m thinking those dreams are going to take a good bit of watering too.
We shall see.
Tune in tomorrow for the nonfiction tale of our junk gypsy weekend entitled, “Rebel Road Sisters Caught Unawares in a Cold Front.”