There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Friday, January 12, 2007

Violets are blue...and yellow, white and pink.

I have decided to make this National Sweet Violet Day. Violets are my favorite flower. The picture is of the first violets of Spring 2006...hard to see I know, but they are there hiding in the recovering grass under a Hemlock tree in the forest. These are the sweet, delicate smelling violets that are used in perfumes, sachets, are edible and just lovely to look at. Even after they have stopped blooming for the season, if I ruffle their leaves I can still make them please my senses and draw in their fragrance.

My mother loved violets as did my grandmother. I really never paid much attention to flowers because I was allergic to most of them and just figured I could admire them from the car, or in pictures. My mother brought a patch of violets to California from my grandmother's garden after one of her trips to see family. She carried them in a piece of newspaper and waxed paper while my dad drove across the country. I remember her treating them like her babies until my dad could plant them in the yard under the lemon tree.

The violets were happy under that tree and they learned their multiplication tables quickly. Soon there were little violets popping up everywhere. My dad took over their care and that was to just let them grow wild. Violets didn't make me sneeze; I liked the way their centers were varigated and intense in their purple royalty; I liked picking them and laying them next to my bed and smelling them in the morning. I pressed them in my copy of Little Women and didn't care that they stained the page a little. I sat in the violets when I was a kid and a teenager and read.....pure pleasure.

When we bought our home in Covina, I took my own little patch of violets from my parent's yard. I planted them under the dinning room window where they could catch the morning sun in their leaves and rest in the shade in the afternoon. They could count well in my yard too...they took over the planter and I loved them even more. When we sold our home and moved to Idaho my son Gil took his patch, planted it in his yard. He complains that they are like rabbits and chicks at Easter but I haven't seen him pull any of the plants out.

My first spring in Idaho was 1999. I was miserable after a winter pretty much alone because of Steve's travels. I was sick of snow already, was homesick and missed my children with an ache in my chest that was close to fatal. We had Charlie by then and the two of us would walk every day in the forest, spring rains and mud or sun. On one of those sun filled days we stopped to rest under my favorite Hemlock....I call it my Ichabod Crane tree. We were sitting under the tree talking of all things dog and spring when I noticed a little patch of purple. I was amazed; wonder of wonders there was a patch of wild sweet violets. Once I found these I saw that they were colors I didn't know violets came in....yellow and white before the heat of spring really kicks in, pink and purple as the temperatures rise.

I tried to bring these delicate friends inside to keep all year long, but they are stubborn about their environment...they like the feel of the full earth under and around them, like the company of the forest trees and the blanket of red thimbleberries and vines in early summer. I haven't found potted violets in Idaho for inside growing. I suppose if I had a hot house or a greenhouse I could find them and try to grow them......but actually I enjoy looking forward to seeing them in the forest at they renew themselves I mend mentally from winter. Charlie is gone of course and I haven't sat under my Hemlock since he got sick.....but maybe this year Violet or Penelope will want to walk with me and rest a bit to talk of things dog and spring.

On a visit to see my granddaughter Sachiko two years ago, she took me to their back yard. She took my hand and guided me out the door to her "favorite" spot.....where the violets grow. She put her whole face in the plants, took a deep breath and said, "Gigi, violets are my favorite flowers. Are they your favorite too? Daddy said they were." Now, after every phone call she asks me this same question and of course my answer is always yes...then we say I love you.


JessnBekahsmom said...

THIS is one of your best entries yet. I love the way you write, Rosemary! I can picture you walking into the forest and happening upon the violets, raising them to your nose and taking in their scent. Heaven. Isn't this blog a great outlet? And don't you just love being able to get to know people you would otherwise never have a chance to meet? So cool. I want to hear all about spring there!

kenju said...

I agree with the person above, Rosemary, this is a great post! I have a lot of violets in my yard; they were volunteers who came along with some irises from my other house and they learned their multiplication too well, for now they are taking over everything. I still love them, though.

Sling said...

Violets were my mom's absolute favorite!
Beautifully written Rosemary. :)

kimbofo said...

Oh violets are lovely; that heady scent, the beautiful rich colour. You've described them wonderfully here.