All help All

It always amazes me that as a child I paid such close attention to my surroundings. For example, I vividly remember the leaves as they changed colors in fall and the smell of lilacs as they bloomed in the late spring. What amazes me even more than that is every once in awhile, but not very often as a child I did as I was told by the adults in my life. Because I paid such close attention to my surroundings, I have memories with vivid details of those surroundings. When I think back to my childhood, it's almost like being there again. I can almost feel the leaves scatter beneath me as I jump in a pile of freshly raked leaves or how a McIntosh apple smells when I pick it from an apple tree.

My exposure to horticulture started early on and the neighborhood flora seemed to have played a pretty significant role in my formative years and in some of the memories I still deeply cherish. When I remember the plants growing around my house it always makes me smile even though the plants themselves weren't anything super special or rare. At the corner of my house grew a lilac bush that bloomed every May (60 years later that same bush is still there). If I close my eyes I can still smell its sweet fragrance. Nameless, naughty children would eat the blossoms. Why? Just because they could! In fact, they did many things just because they could. It's a good thing I never associated with any of those hooligans! Along the front and street side of my house grew irises and day lilies. The purples and oranges were stunning when they were in bloom, but they always remained safe from the nameless, naughty children's wrath and veracious appetite.

Early on there were two bridal wreath bushes that framed the front entrance of my house. The lovely delicate white fluffiness never lasted very long and were quite messy as the blossoms were dropped on the concrete walkway. Those bushes were removed at some point in time, but I wasn't consulted on their removal so I don't have a clue as to why they were selected for elimination.  In the back along the alley between my house and the neighbors grew a few burdock bushes. Burdocks are no more than an invasive weed, but for nameless, naughty children they were a plethora of trouble and fun rolled into one. Many a burdock from those bushes found their way into the neighborhood children's hair. They would stick like velcro and tangle long hair in merciless, matted clumps and then cause quite a little hoopla when removed.

Dandelions are also considered weeds, but they were so beautiful blooming against the deep green color of the soft, velvety grass of my lawn. I never understood how something so lovely could be called a weed. As mentioned in a previous blog post, nameless, naughty children found mischievous uses for those lovely weeds like staining white porches with them. My grandmother used to dig up the dandelion greens from her yard in the country and cook them...OMG! They used to make me gag. Now, fiddleheads on the other hand are a great treat to eat.

In the neighborhood, I remember blue hydrangeas (no one ever seemed to add any chemicals to the soil in order to turn them pink). Chinese lanterns had a firm orange ball inside that always fascinated me. The naughty, nameless children thought they were great to pelt at each other because they hurt less than pebbles and didn't leave any marks. Buttercups (why don't you build me buttercup...sorry, I couldn't help myself from singing that song and now damn it, it's stuck in my head) were used by nameless, naughty children to make predictions.

If a yellow glow could be seen when holding the flower under someone's chin then that meant crazy things were going to happen. If I remember correctly, the predictions were as naughty as the children were. Of course, none of this ever pertained to me! The neighborhood maple trees turned brilliant shades in the fall and when the leaves started to drop, we raked them up into the huge piles to jump in and the cherry trees a few houses up from where I lived had gnarly diseased branches that nameless, naughty children used to chase other children around with claiming it was dog poop on the branches. Those nameless, naughty children seemed to be like the hoards of "walkers" from The Walking Dead...what a menace they were! I can't help, but wonder what naughty things they do now as naughty, nameless adults!

While I was looking at pictures of various plants that are indigenous to Maine, I discovered one of the weeds/plants from my childhood days that grew everywhere. Luckily, none of the nameless, naughty
children ever tried to do anything with the berries other than pick them and throw the ripe juicy berries at one another. I tend to think someone must have told us that they were poisonous, but I have no clear memory of any such warning. The bittersweet nightshade plant is in the tomato family, but is highly poisonous. Wow! I'm almost in a state of shock that I never pushed the envelope and tried eating one or that my brothers didn't hold me down and stuff a few in my mouth to chew to see what would happen. The possibilities really make me cringe! I guess it really is true...ignorance is bliss and what you don't know can't hurt you. Those naughty, nameless children were invincible!

*repost and edited from April 1, 2021

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