Memories are like a series of bookmarks that we use to jump back and forth through the text of our lives, returning again and again to the past events that we hold on to dearly. It simply takes one small trigger: a whiff of something, a color, a sound, a picture.....and then suddenly the pages of our memories turn quickly to that exact spot in our distant lives and we are miraculously thrust into the past. We can taste it, hear it, smell it, see it just as if we were still there caught in time warp. As I get older, this seems to be happening to me more and more.
It was towards the end of a very long 17 credit semester (what in the world was I thinking?). Things were winding down but the work load was not. I had so many papers, projects, power points, and exams due practically all at the same time that my head was spinning constantly. Fortunately, besides gardens, libraries are my next favorite place to be. I like to research topics the old fashioned way by actually going to the library and reading a book to find my information. This is where I found myself when the unsuspecting bookmark of my brain triggered a memory. Who would have thought that researching bryophytes (mosses) could lead to such a thing?
In order to conserve space and pack as many books into this particular library, the book stacks are intriguingly arranged on movable electronic tracks. This is a brilliant idea! Not only can the library hold more books but the nerdy-library-researcher can entertain herself by moving the stacks simply by pushing a little green arrow! Realizing that I really do need to get out more since I am too easily entertained by this, I finally got to the correct stack. Feeling a little like Moses, the stacks parted and I walked down the isle in search of the bryophyte section which to my astonishment was huge. I was in search of one book in particular and with my expert elementary school Dewey Decimal System training, I was able to find it quickly but something else caught my eye. The book that I needed happened to be the last one in the moss category but right next to it, in another category, was a very familiar book titled Perennial Garden. This book sits in my own library at home, but I have not looked at it for a long time. I pulled it off of the shelf and held in my hands. When I opened it, seemingly having a mind of its own, it opened to page 106. To the ordinary person, this page boasts a lovely picture of a weathered fence line adorned with a beautiful perennial border. To the Barnett family, it is glimpse of our home and our childhood.
My mother was excited with the news that a young couple would be coming to our house to interview her and take pictures of her gardens. They were writing a user friendly book about growing a perennial garden and, not surprisingly, their research led them to my mother. How exciting! As it turned out, the picture on page 106 was one of two pictures of our garden that actually made it into the book. No matter, mom was thrilled and her name, her quotes, and her garden were portrayed. The book was published in 1985. Fast forward to 2010 and here I stand with the book in my hands with it opened to the very page of my childhood home. It only takes a glimpse and I hear the clang of the horseshoes as Dad makes one of his incredible ringers. I see Mom bending over in her colorful bathing suit, with flip-flop clad feet and wearing yellow Platex dish gloves as her garden gloves while she tends to the perennial bed along the fence that surrounds our pool. I inhale the heavy muggy air and the sweet scent of wild honeysuckle fills my nose and lungs. Ahhh, how beautiful the perennial border looks this year with the blue Echinops, and the golden Heliopsis. The Hemerocallis and the Lythrum are blooming so it must be July. My stomach growls as I catch a whiff of the turkey that is smoking on the grill. Dad has been feeding the grill with wet hickory chips all day and the succulent aroma of his smoked turkey is driving us all crazy with hunger..........my home.
I put the bookmark back in the pages of my memory and closed it along with the book. I placed it back on the shelf before the embarrassing flood of tears came. I will allow them to privately flow later when I can close myself in my bedroom and look at page 106 again and quietly reminisce.