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Flowers make me happy

August 10, 2011

One time when I was a young teen, Mom got a phone call that unexpected company was coming… soon! “Hey, everybody! Company will be here in a few minutes!” Mom yelled. Mom, Dad, my brother and sister began dashing around rearranging clutter and cleaning madly. Me? I raced to the garden to snatch some zinnias and throw together a quick bouquet.

Mom liked to tell this story as a humorous example of my homemaking philosophy. But I still think making a bouquet is about as important as sweeping the kitchen. Okay. Moreso. Flowers make people lots happier than do clean floors. Besides, who would look at a dirty floor when they can look at flowers in an interesting container instead?

I remember the day my love of flowers was born. Ollie, our housekeeper/babysitter, pulled my sister Mary Ann and me in our wagon to her house, which was down the street a ways and across the railroad tracks.  Along the way, she stopped by the tracks so we could pick huge purple wild violets to make bouquets. I fell in love.

Mom didn’t have much time for fluff when she and dad owned the Culligan business. But she did plant petunias in a flower bed in front of the office. (We lived in the house above the office and plant.) One of my important jobs in grade school was to water the petunias with a big aluminum sprinkler. Today I have purple wave petunias pouring over the brick planter at my front door. And as I water them and pick off the old blooms, that petunia smell takes me back to that pride in a childhood chore.

When I was about nine, for Mother’s Day I secretly bought Mom a climbing rose bush for 99 cents at the Woolworths Dime Store that was on my walk home from school. Then I secretly made a trellis by nailing coat hangers upside down onto a long board, sorta like the one in the Sunday comics crafts section. Then I secretly planted the trellis and rose bush by the side of the house.

Mom was so genuinely surprised and pleased when I led her to this Mother’s Day gift that I bought and planted flowers for her combo Mother’s Day and birthday gift for many years. Then I weeded and watered her flowers the rest of the summer. This gave me an excuse to get out of some house chores and garden chores, which were never-ending.

Last fall when Mom died, instead of sending flowers to the funeral home, friends in my Bible Study group gave me a gift certificate to a greenhouse. This spring I bought a new hoe and some perennials with my certificate.  My friends had no idea how perfect this sympathy gift was for me and how much caring for my flowers will remind me of my mom in years to come.

Some of my happiest moments involve plants. I like to dig in the dirt. I like to plant tomatoes and other plants in the bay window while snow is still on the ground and watch the teeny little plants miraculously push the dirt aside. (Last year I started petunias from seeds smaller than grains of salt.)  And arranging flowers makes me happy year round. In the winter, I’ve been known to buy a bouquet of flowers  at the grocery, divvy them up in containers bought at yard sales, and pass them out to people who need a little happiness.

If there are flowers in my yard, there are bouquets or single flowers in interesting containers in my house. If somebody calls, I’m company-ready. And happy.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Greta permalink
    August 10, 2011 11:22 pm

    Now this I truly didn’t know about you. I am thrilled! I have gotten away from planting although a time in Henderson I had over 30 house plants and some of them were very large. L loves to pick and bring in an offering of flowers daily and is so heart broken the fade and die. She even has a love for leaves. I think I am still that way. Next summer we will have to have some cement projects with leaves in the casting… Thanks for a great article!

  2. August 11, 2011 1:13 am

    Oh, I love leaves, too. Love them! Every fall I walk all over town finding lovely leaves and putting them in and around an old tan crockery bowl on the dining room table. Sometimes I even knock on people’s doors and ask if i can pick leaves off their trees. David still remembers the bright leaf mobile we made from sticks and autumn leaves when he was in kindergarten. When David was little, I was always pointing out all the shades of greens in the leaves of summer. Hmm. I do feel a blog post coming on.

  3. Linda L permalink
    August 11, 2011 2:16 am

    Fun story, Julie. Nice to know how you got out of “work”. 🙂 That was better than my younger sister…..she always chose the work time as the time to spend long amounts of time in the bathroom!

  4. August 11, 2011 4:57 am

    I like the way you think. 😉 And what a lovely idea for a sympathy gift. The gift that keeps on giving.

  5. waynenjo permalink
    August 11, 2011 3:27 pm

    I love it Julie!
    Our yard is full of flowers, come on down, we sit on the patio and sip a lemonade!

    • August 11, 2011 3:38 pm

      Thanks, Jo. We’d love to see you-all sometime!
      I’m not sure how these comment replies work and whether everyone sees this or just one person. But thanks, all, for your comments! I keep thinking of more flower stories!

  6. waynenjo permalink
    August 11, 2011 3:29 pm

    oops, suppose to have said “we’ll sit on the patio…..”

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