“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse
I love working in the garden. I do. I suppose I get it from my mom’s mother, Bernice – my Grandmommy. She passed away last year, but as a child, I remember going up to visit my grandparents at the top of the mountain in Fort Payne, Alabama, and spending hours playing in her gardens, which were always immaculate. She grew vegetables, yes, and lots of them, but the thing I remember most from her gardens (besides the old tire swing beside the barn) were her irises. She had dozens of them along the fence that separated her yard from Grandaddy’s terrain – the cow pasture. She’d often send my mother home with bags of them to plant at our house. My mother never turned them down.
Now as an adult living close to the downtown area of Huntsville, Alabama, I don’t have room for much in my yard, but I do have irises. I also have hydrangeas, azaleas, gardenias, gladiolus, butterfly bush, and lantana. I also have my share of vegetables. That is, when the chipmunks aren’t sabotaging my raised beds. I love our little piece of property.
But the part of my yard that has frustrated me for all 4 years that we’ve lived here is the lawn itself, probably because actual grass is hard to come by. It’s a sea of clover and violets and dandelions and who knows what else. I guess it’s because I live in suburbia, where everyone is supposed to have a perfect grassy lawn, and the fact that many of my neighbors put in quite a bit of time to get theirs pristine, but I always think that my lawn just looks… bad.
Well, we have a two-year-old boy who also loves to play outside. He could spend hours on end chasing the dogs through the yard or playing with bubbles or pushing his little toy mower through the *ahem* weeds. A couple of weeks ago, he and I were outside while some of our wild hyacinth and violets were blooming – the back of the yard was a sea of purple. I looked out over it and thought about how much I needed to mow the yard to get rid of those weeds. My son, however, saw it through different eyes.
“Purple flowers,” he said, over and over as he picked them one at a time with gentle fingers, smiling at each little bloom as he made his tiny bouquet. I just watched, and with each added bloom, my own smile began to grow. He didn’t know that those flowers weren’t supposed to be there, and he certainly didn’t care that they were. In fact, it was the opposite – it was unadulterated joy for my child to have access to all the little flowers he could want. And then he took it one step further.
All on his own initiative, this little boy ran as fast as he could across the yard, reached up his little fistful of flowers, and gave them to me. “Mama’s flowers,” he said, and he was so, so proud. I don’t think I need to explain how my heart melted in that moment, but it did. And in that moment, my toddler son taught me a lesson. I don’t think I’ll ever want to get rid of those little purple flowers now. Our yard doesn’t need to conform to suburban standards. It’s safe, toddler-friendly, and colorful. How could I want anything different? And besides, what good is a lawn?
So, should you in ever find yourself at our house, please don’t expect a manicured yard. Instead, expect laughter, flowers, and a lot of love.