Warm Summer Nights

They’ve been talking about the Groundhog again on the news. How much longer is winter going to last? Will he see his shadow?

I guess this year the little critter has learned to text 🙂 and if you sign up they will text his results from his big day right to your cell phone. I’m going to refrain from commenting about how I feel about all that…. but it is only January and I have honestly and truly seen it snow into the first week of June here – so I am not going to start counting days until spring. (When I can’t take it anymore I will just go and visit some of my friends in NC – they have really real Springs down there – the kind like you see on the Easter cards where everything is pretty and bright green and there are flowers everywhere)

But for those of you who are having a hard time – I thought that I would bring you one of my summer night memories.

My Grandmother was an avid gardener. Loved to garden. You would think having grown up on a farm might of cured her of that – but nope. She loved flowers mostly but was known to grow strawberries and rhubarb as well.

One day one of her cousins handed her a coffee can with some plants in it and told her to take them home and plant them and see what happened. Since this particular cousin was a known prankster – Grandma was pretty sure that the plants were weeds and they did indeed look a whole lot like dandelions. But being curious (and trusting) she took them home and planted them. They wound up being what she called forever after “moon flowers”. They blossom at night – right at dusk and open quickly enough on the extra hot days that you can hear them pop open and watch the petals unfurl. Grandma loved these flowers. Many summer nights at Grandma’s house my sister or I would be brought out to the deck to see how many had opened that night. On nights when there were two Grandma took polaroids to show them off. The morning sun destroys the blooms and you never know how many you are going to get on a given night.

When my Grandfather developed Alzheimer’s some things got lost. One of the things that he lost was how these particular plants look when they are small and over the course of one spring he weeded them out of the garden.

Grandma was of course devastated and wanted to replace them. So off I go with polaroids in hand to try and find these flowers. I find out a whole lot about night blooming flowers and Victorian night gardens. I visit a lot of garden centers and ask a lot of questions. No one seems to know what they are. I turn to the internet and periodically try and figure out what these things are. It turns out that they are Stemless Evening Primrose and they grow wild in parts of the South (like Texas sort of south). Down there they consider them kind of a weed and no one pays them any attention.

Which leads us to a new problem. How do you buy a weed? It’s not like you can go online and buy something that people are trying to kill out of their gardens.

Around this time the decision is made that the house needs to be sold and things need to be cleaned out and moved. It’s getting late in the year – but we try to transfer some of the plants out of the garden and over to some of the rest of the family’s places so that we can all grow memories of Grandma & Grandpa’s house. My sister makes one last ditch effort to find some of the moonflowers that have not been weeded out and there are about three teeny plants in there. No way these are going to make it – but we have to try. Since Sarah lives far away I am elected keeper of the orphan plants. With a whole lot of trepidation I accept this responsibility with very little hope of success.

Spring comes – two of the plants have made it. Summer comes and the plants are thriving. Years later I have nights where there are more than a dozen blossoms on a single night. I bring photos of these up to Grandma at the nursing home. My husband and I spend nights watching them open – much to the confusion of the kids. We are able to share some of the plants with friends and family – always with the story of how much Grandma loved them. So if you are by some summer night around dusk – look for me in the garden dreaming of Grandma and Grandpa’s house and creating my own family memories.

~ by justteejay on January 13, 2010.

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