My mother was a quiet woman. She lived her life in the background, overshadowed by dad’s more authoritative personality. Home and family–that was her focus. As spring approaches, I find myself thinking of her. That in itself isn’t unusual; even though she’s gone, mom remains part of my life. I think of her often.
When we were small, mom and my two aunts would bundle us into the car for a trip to the woods to pick wildflowers. We packed a lunch, and jars of water for the plants. Scarves for our heads to keep the ticks away. Digging tools, because Aunt Julie liked to transplant wildflowers to her home garden (this was an era before you could purchase bulbs or seeds for almost everything).
I remember the cathedral-like silence of the woods, the smell of damp and exotic growing things. Bloodroot. Dutchman’s Breeches. Anemones, with their delicate pink petals. Lady’s Slipper, Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Columbine; Bluebells. Lacy ferns. And violets. Oh, the violets! Every shade in the purple spectrum and white ones with purple throats. In places, where the two had cross pollinated, we’d find white ones spattered with purple, as if Mother Nature had shaken her paintbrush clean. I hear my mother’s voice instructing me, “Slide your fingers down the stem; don’t just yank them out of the ground. And don’t pick all the blooms from one plant–leave some for next year.” My love of nature had its seed in these experiences; my photography had its beginning there.
In May, our yard is full of violets. Picking small bouquets and scattering them throughout my home is a tribute to my mother. I still pick them carefully, the way she taught me, celebrating the legacy of beauty she gifted me with. And I remember mama.