Saturday, November 22, 2008

The passing of the seasons

My favorite gardener turned 100 while the flowers were still vibrant and lush. Since the days of 100 degrees to nights flirting with freezing, the days have become dark by 5 and not bright until after 7. The gifts of the growing season have been overflowing this year. Yet one simple act by my real life sage remains in my hand: seeds from her garden.

I was over visiting and she came out in her housecoat and slippers with her cane by her side. She was so glad to see me as she had a flower she wanted me to identify. She had told me about it at her birthday party - white with dark purple edges, very fragrant and prickly pods. Did I know it? Not exactly. But upon seeing it, I knew it was a variety of Datura stramonium (just for you, Nancy), or Jimsonweed. I've also heard the white variety called Angel's trumpet and the purple edged the nighttime counterpart, Devil's trumpet. While tempted to go into great detail, for this post, I won't wander toward green nirvana (although I could as almost all parts of the plant are poisonous and known for medicinal uses, including hallucinations).

Back on terra firma, she pressed the seed pod in my hand.

And in that act I realized she would be with me for as long as I planted those seeds and harvested them for another year. As long as I live her stories and pass on her lessons, which come with no warning or instruction book.

She went on to tell me about her great dreams. "I wake up laughing," she giggled. "I've been dancing and hearing music and it's so beautiful and sunny and warm ..."

We move toward her sunflowers. "I watch them all day. They follow the sun from morning till night." Her smooth hands, wrapped with ageless supple coffee brown skin, reach the marigolds, a mixture of new blooms and some from a day gone by. She fingers the small seed heads, snapping them off and passing them to me. Hers are tall, a mixture of dark burgundy and red and yellow. My mind takes a snapshot, hoping I'll never forget this moment: Standing in the sun, sharing her stories, collecting seeds.

The passing of seasons through seeds. The simplest and most profound act. It's more than a silver lining, it's wide open blue skies that never end.


Jenny said...

Oh Marji,

This is a wonderful, wonderful post! I have been missing your blog so much, and am delighted to see you posting again. I love the idea that people remain with us through the seeds they leave behind, both physical and metaphorical.


Ser said...

I'm so glad you are posting again, Marji. I miss you! How lovely to get an update on this amazing woman.

Dan Greenstone said...

I was researching my grandparents, and came across your fascinating post on Erika and Paul Fromm. Yes, I am indeed their grandson. I have no idea how you came across those that box of letters. What a find. Of course, I would like to see them. I wonder if I could touch base with you about them. I live in Oak Park. My name is Daniel Greenstone, and I teach high school history. You can reach me at

Nancy said...

This is a beautiful post, and so, so true about seeds. (I couldn't have done any better on the Datura, sounds good to me) Interestingly, the plant is an annual, but still, though I've never planted it, we seem to get a new one every year in one of our beds. Because it is toxic, I'd never encouraged it, but your post makes me think this year I ought to give it some love. Then, I'll be thinking of your gardener friend, too. She sounds like a gem.

Jenny said...

Oh Marji,

I miss your blog, and I especially miss you! Please post soon.

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