Friday, November 04, 2005

Wild Violets

I don’t remember when I realized that wild violets are my favorite flower. I knew that by the time I did, they had already been my favorite for so long it just seemed obvious. I’m sure it had something to do with the sledding hill next to our house. Each spring it would transform itself from green to deep, blue-violet. It was as if I’d been allowed to use my favorite crayon to add color where it really counted.

I could sit or stand, or sit and stand, below, above, or right inside this bounty of blue-violet rolling down and down and down to where the land got flat before it went up to meet the river. From the riverbank some 20 yards away, the hill looked as if a king had left his carpet there after some Alice-in-Wonderland picnic on the slant.

But the far view could not contain me. Where flowers are concerned I am a micro viewer. Up close wild violets are so individual, so delicate, yet so grand. The deep blue petals, tiny true, seem to command attention as they hold their heads out from their airy, liquid bending stems. Footfalls don’t concern them and rarely cause them harm, at least not the kind of harm that others might see. They know that life means sometimes you stretch to reach the sun, and sometimes you bend under the weight and power of the rain.

I was small, so small my hands were chubby, when I saw them for the first time ever. I was ankle deep in the luxury of purple. It seems I was too young to have many word-thoughts in my head, but my heart was filled with wonder at the color. I touched one carefully, so as not to hurt it. I wished that they could stay forever so that I could just observe them. It was the first time I felt that nature had made something just for me.

Before I left I picked six or seven of the tiny flowers and marveled at how small they were in my little hand. I hadn’t learned the word fragile then but in that look, I knew the meaning of it. I carried those few flowers home and gave them to my mother. I thought that she should have the most beautiful things on Earth.

That must have been the day I chose wild violets as my favorite flower. I don’t remember thinking that. I remember thinking that I wished that I could be one.

In some ways I think I am.
—me strauss Letting me be

30 comments:

Eric Mutta said...

Congratulations Liz, I hereby declare your life a living poem :-)

ME Strauss said...

Hi Eric,
Thank you for that. Does that mean I will always have a certain metaphoric manner about me?

smiles,
Liz

Eric Mutta said...

100% correct. I see the metaphoricism (somebody please call a neologist, I think I invented a new word there!) everytime I visit here.

PS: I'm still chuckling at the image of you with chubby hands.

Betty said...

I'm a micro viewer too, although never had a label for it until now. I've always enjoyed those microscopically tiny wildflowers, barely visible in some types of grass.

Thank you for being a wild violet in my life, always reminding me of what makes life worth living.

ME Strauss said...

My friend Eric,
I will ask my friend, Margaret, the keeper of that particular set of old Liz photos, if she might arrange for the appropriate photo to be scanned. I was 22 pounds (the size of a one year old) at six months. At age 3, my wrists were a deep line between my hand and my arm. :)

smiles,
liz

ME Strauss said...

Hi Betty,
Your whirling makes my life more joyful and sweet. Thank you for the breeze that you bring to me.

smiles,
liz

easywriter said...

The sweet violets around my pond are sleeping now. You've brought them vividly back to life here along with awakening childhood memories. Beautiful and thank you for this post. Violets always make me think of sweet secrets and small hidden things that flash in and out of view gloriously.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Easy,
I had no idea that these little flowers were so special to anyone but me.

It's so nice that this little post could bring you such a lovely memory. Your comment brought me a beautiful image.

smiles,
Liz

Jennifer said...

Good Morning (and yes it's still morning...just barely...have I mentioned how crazy my week has been??!?!?)

MY most vivid memories of flowers: Tulips...for as far as the eye can see. I was about 11 or maybe 12 and in Holland.

I thought they went on for miles and miles in every color...floating in the soft breeze and swaying to some music I could just barely hear if I closed my eyes and listened carefully.

I agree with Eric :) You've got a way of sharing such simple moments in a beautiful way.

ME Strauss said...

Good morning, Jennifer,
I'm just glad you came. Please don't ever think of me as a have-to.

Tulips, yes tulips. That had to be so fabulous.

smiles,
Liz

Jennifer said...

Oh I never do :) I look forward to my morning read...only lately life has been getting in the way of that!

:D

ME Strauss said...

Great to hear that you don't think you're obligated. Life should be your first priority. :)

toadman said...

In Texas, when I was a wee bairn, we had another flower. The bluebonnett. It grew in the spring, and blanketed fields in light blue, for what seemed to my tiny eyes, as far as the eye could see.

My mother always took my picture in a field of bluebonnetts around Easter, wearing my sunday best...I remember wishing that I could sink down below their stems and look at them from underneath.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Toadmaster,
I remember bluebonnets. I grew them in my garden when I liven Autin and went to see the bluebonnet field of the kind you talk about. Awesome.

What a curious child thing to want to get under them and see what they look like. Good for you. I hope you finally got to.

smiles,
liz

toadman said...

I did get to.

I distinctly remember my mother telling me to stop laying down in them. But it was the best place to be. Like looking through a tunnel of blue flowers at a distant blue sky with puffy clouds.

ME Strauss said...

Then, that is even cooler than ever. I ber your eyes and your heart were very, very happy.

No wonder you're such a good dad.

smiles,
Liz

dog1net said...

Liz:
Pathetic fallacy is the one literary devise that gets most inexperienced writers knee deep in a vat of syrup, but in this post you use it in such a way that is as delicate as the violets you describe: "They know that life means sometimes you stretch to reach the sun, and sometimes you bend under the weight and power of the rain."

This essay is deeply insightful, not just in terms of the childhood memories it evokes, but how you take that thread and tie it so well to your sense of being, both then and now. Thanks for coming by today. Your comments are wonderful encouragements that I appreciate very much.
Scot

ME Strauss said...

Scot,
Thank you for your comment. That you who know so much about writing call attention to such things I must stop and take a breath. I appreciate that you point out what I don't know what I'm doing. :)

smiles,
Liz

Bluesky_Liz said...

You've come full circle, I would say.

ME Strauss said...

Liz.
What a comment. I wonder what you mean? Full circle from when I first saw violets? Or something totally different?

smiles,
Liz

Bluesky_Liz said...

The way I read this, I think you've grown to become what you admired about those violets. And you didn't know it when you first liked them, I think you know why you like them now. And that in turn is, IMHO, how you also define yourself.

"Up close wild violets are so individual, so delicate, yet so grand. The deep blue petals, tiny true, seem to command attention as they hold their heads out from their airy, liquid bending stems. Footfalls don’t concern them and rarely cause them harm, at least not the kind of harm that others might see. They know that life means sometimes you stretch to reach the sun, and sometimes you bend under the weight and power of the rain."

ME Strauss said...

Thank you, Liz,
I would very much like to see myself that way that's true, and i suppose on my good days I indeed do.

Thank you for noticing. That is the sign of a true friend. I am honored.
smiles,
Liz

for_the_lonely said...

How very beautiful...
this reminds me of the sea of blue that I would see in the countryside of Texas from all of the Bluebonnets. It was as if there was the most prestine ocean in the middle of a open field. Thank you for stirring up such great memories!

Love,
Sarah

PS I am the 23rd post...my lucky number! :)

ME Strauss said...

Sarah!
Lovely Sarah. My goodneww, how are you? Happy 23rd post. Happy bluebonnets! I loved the bluebonnets when i was in Texas, especially when a cardinal flower stuck it's head in among them.

Thank you for coming by to see me!
smiles,
Liz

garnet david said...

A nymph called Lo, who Zeus loved, was changed into a cow by him to hide her from his wife. When Lo wept over the taste of grass he changed her tears into Violets she could eat.

I love mythology. You know violets are edible? Friendly little things, like you.

GhL
D

ME Strauss said...

Hi G,
Thank you for leaving that lovely little myth--I didn't know that one--for me. And for giving me that sweet violet compliment.

lhg

smiles,
Liz

Eric Mutta said...

[Delightfully looking forward to the photos] :-)

ME Strauss said...

I said I would. I didn't say when.
smiles,
Liz

Jessica Doyle said...

Ahhh I grew up with violets to in New Brunswick. They were declared years ago as the provincial flower of NB. That must have been a sight to have a whole hill of them growing while growing up.

It's cool to be able to put words to emotions and feelings that once were long ago unknown to us. Only through experience did we become aware that the feeling has a name.

;)

ME Strauss said...

Hello Jessica,
welcome.
It's nice to think that we share wild violets as well as so many other things.