As a young child growing up in a “growing-out-of-a-rural-farmland-township” in Southwestern Ohio, my parents owned a home on a half-acre lot. We didn’t have privacy fences or alarm systems. We knew every one of our neighbors on our street, some of them behind us, and knew everything about them. Our township had once been rural – farmlands spread out, creeks gurgling as the water traveled over rocks and banks. In fact several of the towns in Greene County around us had names associated with water in them. I lived in Beavercreek. There was also Ceasars Creek Township, Silver Creek Township, Spring Valley, Sugar Creek Township, Bellbrook, and Yellow Springs.
My parents loved to garden. In one corner of the backyard was our vegetable garden. I remember being able to eat tomatoes right off the vine. They were warm from the Ohio summer sun, the juice and seeds running down my hands and arms after taking a big bite from them. No other tomato has tasted as good. Then there were the peas. Right out of the shell, raw and full of flavor. The most amazing thing I ever ate. There were also the green onions, bell peppers, and other assorted vegetables.
In the opposite corner was my mom’s flower garden. Black-eyed Susans, snap-dragons, poseys in many different colors transformed that area into a sea of beauty. Mom would tenderly clip flowers and place in vases scattered throughout our home. We always had fresh flowers every spring and summer. There were other flowers and plants that Mom and Dad planted. The peonies (which I never pronounced right until I got older – I always called them “pennies”!) that sat at our property line between our yard and our next door neighbor’s yard. The lilac bush that produced beautiful purple blossoms every year. The Japanese Gingko tree with the funny looking green leaves. The “christmas tree” evergreen and blue spruce trees in our front yard. The honey suckle plant that snaked itself around the trellis at the side of the yard by the garage. The snowball bush with the white blossoms that truly did look like snowballs. The lilies that bloomed every Easter underneath our front picture window. Pots and pots of geraniums that when the red petals began to fall, it looked like a red carpet. The marigolds that bloomed early. The crocuses that foretold winter was over. The tulips that lined our sidewalk. The ivy that crawled up the side of the house. All of these were testaments to my mother’s talent for nurturing plants and flowers. I did not inherit her green thumb!
Until I started growing flowers (or had them given to me), I never understood the fascination my Dad had for taking photos of them. I have so many pictures of flowers, of my former child self holding a flower, smelling the flower, standing next to flowers. But now, I too, take pictures of the flowers. Living things that won’t last but a season if I’m lucky. To hold on to the memory and the moment of that beauty, I get my digital camera out and snap pictures. Two things that tie me to those summer days of my childhood, the flowers and the pictures of them.
(Having a bit of trouble uploading pictures. Check out the flickr site to the right).