Saucer Magnolias
March 25th, 2011

The saucer magnolias are in bloom.  I look at them and I see the front yard of the fraternity house.  His fraternity house.  And also my fraternity house.  The one where he courted me, in that casual college way.  I see the saucer magnolia off to the left, its purple and white petals on the ground like confetti. I see college guys in t-shirts, cargo shorts, and flip flops with a beer in one hand and a frisbee in the other.  I see us on the porch, procrastinating, before eventually caving and walking to our corporate finance class together even though we both want to sit on that porch and continue to flirt with each other.  I see us return from class and drop our backpacks on the ground sliding back into conversations that we left behind 50 minutes ago.  I see myself looking back over my shoulder as I leave, headed to the dining hall for supper, walking through fallen petals across the yard.

The Bradford Pears are in bloom.  I look at them and I see my high school.  I see its brick towers and pitched roofs.  I see high school kids filtering out through the gymnasium exit to the parking lot, uniform shirts untucked since the bell has rung.  I see track practice in full swing.  I see myself linger in that parking lot, spinning my car keys around my index finger, not wanting to go home for fear of missing something important to an insecure 17-year-old.  I see the Bradford Pear trees lining the drive, and I smell their scent.  They are not sweet, but strongly pungent in a way that is only pleasing based on connotation.  Yet my connotations never fade, and I love the smell of Bradford Pear blossoms.

The forsythia are in bloom.  I look at their gangly yellow branches and I see the side yard of my childhood home.  I see the triangular flower bed in the corner of the yard with the un-pruned forsythia limbs hanging in arcs.  I see my mother’s vegetable garden, dug in the shape of my home state, partly because my dad has a sense of humor, and partly because he got sick of digging.  I see the shed attached to the side of the house that my dad built with help from church friends.  And I see my handprints in the concrete ramp that was built for the riding lawnmower.  I see my mother explaining to me for the eighteenth time which one is forsythia and which ones are photinia.

The daffodils are in bloom.  I look at them and I see every tree in my parents’ yard surrounded by daffodils.  I see them cut in vases on our breakfast table.  I see the little ones in bud vases on my mother’s bill-paying desk.  I see myself smelling them, knowing that they don’t smell like much, but wanting to believe that they do.

The hyacinths are in bloom.  I look at them and I see my son’s first spring.  I see the day that our nanny was sick and I spent the day at home with my five-month-old baby.  I see myself sitting on our front porch with him, holding pieces of mulch so that he could feel them.  I see myself pick up a broken hyacinth bloom that had fallen under the weight of its own petals.  I see him reach for it, grasp it, and carry it to his mouth.  I see myself take a series of photos of my baby with a pink flower.  I take the bruised blossom from him and smell it, knowing that these smell the way I think spring should smell.

The saucer magnolias are in bloom, and they bring with them an avalanche of memories.

5 Responses to “Saucer Magnolias”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Oh, those magnolias are heavenly. And when spring finally shows, it’s such a relief. Funny, the memories that will be instilled not only by these colors and textures, but the scents.


  2. Lindsey Says:

    Oh, I love this … magnolias are resplendent with memories for me, too, of senior year and all of the hope and promise and confidence that that time in my life carried. Thank you for sharing some of your memories. xx

  3. anne Says:

    Well, since some of these are shared memories, I must say I got goosebumps reading them. There’s just nothing like spring–emotional, hopeful, and nostalgic.

  4. Mom Says:

    I was doing fine until I got to the part about you, your baby, and your first spring together. There are few things more evocative for me than the scents and sights and sounds I find outdoors. I’m glad they are for you, too.

  5. Cathy Says:

    Dogwoods and daffodils will always remind me of my childhood home.