Perennial HappinessApril 4, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Family, Me | 17 Comments
Tags: Family, Flowers, Grandparents, Growing Up, Life, Memory, Nature, Outdoors, Relationships, Travel
It’s April, and our ubiquitous signal of spring is, well, in full bloom. Wildflowers. Every time I see a patch of Indian paintbrushes or black-eyed Susans, I’m instantly four again.
I’m riding in my grandpa’s Dodge truck, its copper hood glinting like old pennies in the afternoon sun. The octagon patchwork of the seat warms my legs through my shorts and leaves an imprint on the back of my knees. He has a tall green thermos of coffee by his feet; the truck cab smells like Folger’s crystals. His black pug snores on the top of the seat behind him, her scrunchy face resting on his shoulder.
He gulps from the thermos and then punches the buttons on the old analog radio. Between the static, he finds two Country and Western stations playing lots of Johnny, Merle, and Willie. With the windows rolled down, we drive for miles, letting the hot wind blow our hair into knots and wiping dust from our eyebrows.
And the wildflowers, oh, the wildflowers. They are everywhere. We pass patch after patch, my squeals getting louder and longer the farther we go. He smiles and pulls off to the shoulder. We get out and walk through the crab grass to a clump of buttercups. He bends down and runs his finger gently over one of the buds. I bend down, too, and breathe in its faint, faint sweetness. It smells like rain.
I reach for a handful. “Wait, sugar,” he says. “They’re not for pickin’. Just for lookin’. If we pick ’em all, there won’t be any to enjoy.” I draw my hand back and lean closer. I can’t resist sticking my nose in one of the soft centers. The pollen clings to my face, making yellow rouge circles on my smiling cheeks.
It’s been five years since my grandpa passed away. And nearly 30 years since I spent springtime Saturdays with him gawking at wildflowers and gathering sacks of pecans to take home for pie. But with each year that passes, this memory gets more vivid.
Sometimes, I wonder how many blanks my brain is filling in with made-up details.
And sometimes, I don’t think it matters.
What childhood memories linger in your mind? How many details are you certain of? And do you think it matters?