Thursday, March 26, 2015

The blue bells will soon be blooming!

I think Spring is my favorite season of the year.  As soon as the willow tree begins to change to chartreuse, that wonderful yellow green, I know the daffodils are not far behind.  For some reason, I do not have crocuses in my gardens, so daffodils are the first flower to bloom.  This morning my little petite daffodils are blooming profusely.  The larger daffodils are in bud and the tulip leaves have popped up;the pansies I planted last fall are coming back. 

I am waiting patiently for the blue bells (grape hyacinth) to show signs of flowers to come.  I am very much aware that these little bulbs can take over a garden.  So far I have kept mine clumped in the space I have for them.  This fall I need to divide the clumps and find more places for them to grow freely.

I have a history with blue bells.  My favorite springtime flower is the daffodil in all of its forms.  But my first memory of a springtime flower was of the flowers we called blue bells.  

I grew up in the country about a mile outside of East Petersburg, PA in the middle of Lancaster County.  My childhood home was, and is still surrounded by farmland.  Fields were plowed every spring and crops rotated every year.  Mr. Rohr owns the land to the east, and for many years used mules to pull his plow or wagons in the fall. 

The Hottenstein family farms the land to the north and the Landis's farm is to the west and south.  It was the Hottenstein field to the north that I remember in the Spring.  Blue bells covered the field just across the road beyond the asparagus patch.  This specific Spring I may have been 2 or 3...pretty little.  I shared a bedroom with my older sister, Joanna.  And both of us still took naps.  

This day, we had asked and I imagine pleaded and  begged our mother to take us to pick blue bells.  The picking of the blue bells became the reward for taking a nap.  And so after lunch, off we went to bed.  I remember nap time as a lot of talking and giggling between Joanna and me, resulting in my mother calling from the foot of the stairway reminding us to "settle down or else".  At age 2 or 3  I did not understand what was so important about naps.  But they were a regular part of those early years. And I do remember what "or else" meant.  I am sure we tried to be good nappers that day.  The reward was worth being quiet for a while. 

 Finally up after our naps, we eagerly scrambled down the stairs, and  gathered sweaters and bandannas to head out and walk the gravel road we called the "Stoney Road " down the hill to the field of blue bells.  We headed out the back door around to the front of the house, and to our utter shock, Mr. Hottenstein had plowed the field while we were napping.  The Blue Bells were  gone!  The field where they had been was now a freshly turned expanse of brown dirt.
about the time of this story maybe 1949
I don't remember how we reacted.  I just remember the blue bells were gone.  That memory, however, has stayed with me.  I pay attention to when flowers bloom, and how much time I have to enjoy them.  And if I want to pick flowers, I do.  Its is like taking time to smell the roses. It also means that as I plan my gardens around my house, I plant bulbs and seeds for flowers that are specifically grown for cutting.  It is more than gardens for me to enjoy outside.  In the spring there are daffodils and tulips, blue bells and lily-of- the-valley. When summer arrives there are stalks of lilies, cosmos, zinnias, roses, daisies and bee balm so that I can cut bouquets for the house.  And when Emma comes to visit, the question is usually "may I pick flowers, Nana?"  And you may have guessed, the answer is always "yes!".
My mother Anna Mary Neff keeping an ever watchful eye

I see grape hyacinths every spring, and every spring I remember the flowers plowed under while I took the
mandatory nap!  And every spring, I gather a bouquet of the little blue bells from my garden for my kitchen table, and forgive my sweet, sweet mother one more time.

I wish your spring filled with sunshine, flowers
  .....and peace.             Rachel
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