Wandering in the gardens near the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, on Friday, I found myself at various moments crawling under the rhododendrons, lying flat on my belly to photograph (and smell!) the lilies of the valley, and crouching among the dandelions and wild asters in the sunshine.
Nose-to-nose with blossoms and grasses, I was transported to childhood, to the world of my mother's garden, and to afternoons spent building kingdoms among the rhododendron roots. Dew-dropped in the morning, cool in the heat of day, lush and mysterious as the sun set, her garden was a world of scents and colors that helped me understand the importance of cultivating and nurturing beauty.
The tame world of the house was always only steps away, yet this was a wild place, a place where tiny flowers loomed large in my imagination. I could imagine myself into a hundred lives, each one richer and more enticing than the last.
My mother gave me many gifts when I was growing up, among them her time, her patience, her laughter, and her sense of curiosity. And she passed on to me a love for gardens. This afternoon, as we walked in the garden of the house where I grew up in Maine, my mother and I talked about plans she has for transplanting a few shrubs and perennials, and for building a new stone wall around one bed. A gardener's work, like a mother's, is never done, but there is always a little time for sitting in the cool green shade of a late afternoon, letting the scent of lilacs and lilies of the valley wash across the grass as a breeze rises--time to enjoy the feeling of a job well done.
Happy Mother's Day, Mum!
Thinking today of you,
and of Grammy and Memere,
and all the women in our lives
whose understanding and humor and care
taught us to grow wiser and stronger
and ever better
with the passing of years.