Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Wanted To Tell You The Story

...of how I came to love red geraniums. (It IS my blog name and all.)

I'll take you back to when I was a little girl. Ice cream with my little sister on the back porch, our wet hair hanging nicely brushed after our bath. Peanut butter and jelly and the beloved Ramen (with margarine and parmesan cheese). Concentration. Playing house like no other little girl I've ever known (examples of this given in a previous post). Night games. Banana splits. Playing in the treehouse at the neighbors. Gas station in our backyard, and stopping at the bank teller along the lilac bushes in the driveway. Building "amusement" water parks. Sounds Easy Pizza with Bradley. Macaroni salad after a good swim at Veterans Pool. Licorice ropes. Friday treats. Playing card games at Baskin Robbins with two of my sisters (S&C). And waking up on Saturday mornings to the familiar hum of the lawnmower outside, rushing to get into my clothes, down the stairs, and out to help my dad with the yardwork.

I always loved working with my dad in the yard. I remember him letting me mow the lawn -- even when I couldn't make a straight row. He'd let me mow along with him, and then he'd let me go on my own -- lovingly correcting my crooked lines when he took over again.

Last fall we were outside raking leaves together in the dark, and I forgot how much I love working side by side with my dad. And working. Whether it be canning or planting or raking or cooking or gardening or whatever.

In the summertime, when the smell of fresh cut grass tickles you with its deliciousness, my dad always planted geraniums. I always thought they weren't very pretty flowers. He was very fond of them though, and still, every year without fail, they line the boxes on his front porch, fill the back flowerbeds, the barrell by the back steps, flower boxes on the back deck and hanging baskets on both porches. My dad's house in the summertime is synonymous with geraniums.

Years ago on a summer morning, my love affair started. I was staying with my Great Aunt Earlene, and after getting out of bed, I found her outside along her front flowerbeds planting geraniums. As she worked in the dirt, we talked about generations gone. She told me about her mother who loved these gorgeous blooms and always planted them at her house. To this day, she still plants 100 geraniums in honor of her mother for Mother's Day. Then, she told me about my grandma. My dad's mom died the year before I was born, but she was in love with these flowers, too. As I sat and listened to her talk of these women, I thought of all the times I had gone to the garden shop with my dad to purchase geraniums, and all the hours I'd spent planting with him. He also had told me about my grandma's love for geraniums, but it seemed uniquely beautiful to be in the morning sunlight, with her sister, hearing these same sentiments, and realizing how much this one bloom tied a whole string of people together.

As she dug in the soil and lovingly placed each flower, packing it snug with fresh, cool, dark dirt, I felt as if she were pulling at my heart. She symbolically was digging into the past, showing the beauty and love and growth that had existed there, resurrecting their lives anew. With these fresh blooms, they lived again, and I felt strangely connected to them, to her, and to my father. She was pulling at my roots, gently assuring me of the love there.

I've never been able to look at a geranium in the same way again. They tie me to where I come from, to the people that molded my life and to the women that preceded my birth. And they provide a connection to my father and all those days together that hold a special place in my heart.

And as far as the red...well, they're my favorite.

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