Spring, Sunshine, Smells, and Memories of Childhood

May 4, 2009

Above: The plum tree in the vacant lot is in bloom.

Allergies, a couple of episodes of The Twilight Zone, and one particularly troubling episode of Lost in Space have made me deeply suspicious, if appreciative (for that CO2 exchange and shade to name two things), of flowers, trees, and plants in general.

But every spring I have three botanical events that are huge for me. We hit one today. I walked out of the house to ride my bike and the smell from the plum tree just outside our yard hit my nose and propelled me back to childhood—like Pavlov's dogs I started salivating…insistent, uncontrolled. It was as if I had just got on my bike after visiting Rudebaugh's (the ex-burb convenience store where I scored my candy).

The smell is unmistakably the same as Pixie Sticks (Stix?): long paper straws filled with dyed sugar that was slightly flavored with tartness. What chemical process they did to achieve this I'll never know, but now, to relive it, all I have to do is smell this plum tree in bloom.

It doesn't hurt that it's a calorie-free trip down memory lane. And it sure doesn't hurt that this small tree which has survived so much (drought years when we got it water, lightning storms which split it in two and necessitated massive trimming) looks like something you'd expect to find as the center of interest in a Japanese woodblock print. It knows it's beautiful!

Plum6305 Left: A view at the base of the tree looking up.

After my ride I put my bike in the house and walked back to the tree with my camera. I knew I wanted to share this on my blog, but I wasn't going to draw fussy little blossoms when I was still wobbly from pushing into the wind. (Sometimes even I draw the line about drawing everything!)

I let the smell invade every part of me. I ignored the bees and buzzing insects. I just breathed in the pleasant air (62 degrees F) and went ahead and wallowed in it: that memory of childhood. A time when we rode our bikes for joy "just 'cause," and my sugar addiction was under control because my allowance was capped.

We can have that every day if we stop, breathe, and remember to make a little space in our lives. It might not last all day, but we can have it everyday. And it leaves trace minerals.

I'm still riding my bike for sheer joy. And every day that I do, it helps me keep in touch with child part of me. We can stand under a blooming plum tree, look up at the sky through the branches and blossoms and feel 8 years old again. We need to do this every day, in some way. It reminds us of the possibilities—and all the questions we haven't found the answers to yet.

(And over time my acquaintance with this particular tree has also helped lessen my concerns about pod-people: maybe that's how they get you—but I'm going to stay positive!)

    • Donna
    • May 4, 2009

    Beautiful photo Roz, but when I got to the part about the pod people, it brought back a childhood memory for me. After watching that movie with my brother, we decided to have a little slumber party in his room, so we made a palette on the floor. We woke up later with a big watermelon under the bed, and it was still too dark to see that it was a watermelon. Scared the you know what out of both of us! My parents thought it was a riot.

    • Roz
    • May 5, 2009

    Ah, Donna, the joys of parenthood!

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