Pinch of Faith: Grandparents’ love of earth’s bounty endures

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I saw them with my own winter weary eyes. Poking their bright yellow heads from beneath a pile of leaves on a neighbor’s front lawn, the daffodils gave unspoken testimony of survival after a brutally chilling winter.  

While pipes froze outside and inside residences and buildings as a result of single digit temperatures, burst and disrupted many households and created problems for owners and plumbers, the bulbs lay dormant deep below the frozen earth. Without a wake-up call, they resurrected themselves from hibernation to emerge once again and bring their promise of spring and assurance of the wonder that exists in God’s world.

Those daffodils, known as buttercups here in the South, can bring a smile to our faces and joy to our souls. 

Many years ago, I worked in a downtown office, and I would venture to a well-known department store on occasion to grab a lunch of their renowned tasty ham and rolls. Across the street from the store was an old church, and each year, as they bloomed, a lady brought bundles of her buttercups to sell.  

Living in a basement apartment with no yard of my own, I always looked forward to purchasing her flowers. For the sum of 50 pennies, I invested in a bouquet of sunshine to brighten our surroundings.  For a few days, they created indoor beauty in their bright blue vase. No floral designer was necessary.

My paternal grandparents lived on two acres of land located outside the city limits. They had their beautiful crab orchard stone house built on a hill overlooking the lush property. As immigrant lovers of the earth and all it produced, my grandfather utilized half of the property for his fruit orchard which yielded peaches, apples, cherries, figs, and plums. 

Despite the long hours he worked, every afternoon he could be found toiling in the orchard, devoted collie dog by his side, and mini me, shadowing his every step. 

While he puttered in his happy place, Grandma was busy planting and harvesting buttercups, peonies, iris, and the bounty of her prolific herb garden. She planted great quantities of parsley, oregano, and basil, which served to add a special touch to her legendary Italian spaghetti sauce, (known by all who partook of it as “gravy”). 

I loved to water those fragrant herbs but despised pulling the leaf engorged green and bright yellow worms off the parsley. She always interspersed marigolds to discourage the insects and critters from feasting on her yield.

Their long driveway was bordered on either side by pink and white peony bushes while buttercups and iris lined the boundaries of the front and back yards. I would help Grandma cut the flowers for bouquets that we placed before the statue of the Blessed Mother that Grandpa enshrined in a stone grotto he built in Mary’s honor. Mary was moved inside during the winter months and she got a fresh coat of paint every spring when she returned to her shrine. 

Before their house was sold to developers, and being unable to disassemble the beautiful grotto, I dug up some iris bulbs while my godfather dug up six or eight peony bushes to transplant to his yard. After he went to join my godmother and grandparents in heaven, his daughter relocated the flowering bushes to her lawn. Upon her passing, her daughter again moved the peonies and asked if I wanted one. With serious reservations about the likelihood of yet another move, I eagerly accepted her offer and brought it to live with us.

I see promising green shoots where the iris and peonies are struggling to break ground as they make their return appearances for the 23rd year. Regrettably, I do not have any buttercups of my own, but if I see someone in front of a church selling them, I will become a regular customer.  Regardless of what they might be called, they are miraculously lovely to behold. 

Just as soon as the danger of frost is over, I will put out my patio pots of herbs, laced with marigolds.  They will surround our statue of the Blessed Mother and honor my past.

Copyright © 2023 Mary Margaret Lambert

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