Friday, May 29, 2009

On the Scent

"If you don't know what smells bad, how'dya' know what smells so good?" -- Jimmy Bean
The peonies are in bloom. As the ants crawl up and into these petaled wonders, my family all drink in the scent, exclaiming about the glory of peonies. I can agree about the beauty of the flower, the fullness of petals creating puffs of joy against slick green foliage, but I am not a fan of that particular perfume. I simply am not thrilled by the acidic smell. It reminds me of roses but bitter somehow.

Peonies have always had that effect on me -- the nose curling dislike was even stronger when I was young. But these peonies I will keep in my garden as long as I have a garden. They were born of slips from the peonies my great-grandmother grew. They remind me of Memorial Day BBQ picnics in Granny's back yard. And they trigger other memories of that elderly lady, her tight perm and pink carpets, her "fly cemetery" current cookies, the endless miles of yarn she turned into sweaters and slippers.

Granny passed away several years ago. In my memories of her, happy as they are, there is that faint touch of sorrow to be parted for a time, just as in my garden each sweet smelling rose has a thorn, and each glorious peony has an unpleasant scent. It's just the way things are, and I am glad of it. I would miss these flowers had I never seen of smelt them. Just as I only have the privilege of missing Granny because I had the pleasure of knowing her.

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