Growing up in the Midwest, the coming of Spring was truly something to be celebrated.
Green came back to the frozen earth and exploded life all over the place with an exuberance that made every little girl believe in fairies who wake up flowers and sprites who live inside of trees and come out the moment Winter is gone.
The former inhabitants of our home must have had a great appreciation for growing things. The back yard was full of fruit trees: cherry, apple, pear, apricot. There were also bushes: raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries, and some wild mulberries that we grow from some weeds that randomly appeared. We also had roses, hens and chicks, a lovely little garden out front, lilac bushes, a magnolia tree, dogwood tree, and many other trees.
Growing along the east wall of the garage was a straight little row of irises.
Each year I would eagerly wait for the irises. In the early morning before school I would race outside to see what had blossomed. They were purple, gold, burgundy, yellow, blue; a living rainbow that gave off a deliciously sweet smell. I loved their soft, velvety petals set in such a remarkably simple array. I studied the flowers daily, memorizing the every angle, texture, and scent.
In the mornings I would examine each blossom, finding the very best, then break it off and walk the mile or so to school with dew wetting my fingers. Handing the flower to my teacher, I would take a seat and feel as though I had done something spectacular that morning.
One year in school I painted an entire collection of water color irises. Some were purple, others gold, burgundy, or blue. Some had bumble bees flying lazy circles around the flowers. My teacher liked them so much that she kept them and I only got to take one or two home.
The following is a poem I wrote titled "The Iris." It's not so much about the flower as something else that is sweet, soft, and simple; something that requires patience and can be gone as quickly as it appears.
Jan. 8, 2008
In the fall I planted you.
It wasn’t so much that I did anything, really.
The hole was already there, left vacant from something that had died.
You simply fell in and the earth closed around you so I let you stay.
All winter I try to forget you.
But, as soon as I succeed in pushing you from my mind and stop staring at the place where you rest – safe and protected from the gales I blow around myself – you disturb the ground and cause me to notice your existence once more.
The only thing I have left is to wait.
I wait patiently for the Spring to show me if you ever intended to live.
I would dearly love to see an iris in full bloom.