I’m feeling a little sad today. The redbud trees are slowly beginning to exchange their flowers for leaves. It may have been cool this week, but summer will soon overpower my favorite season, and we’ll be wilting in the sultry steam of a central Illinois summer.
This time of year always reminds me of my Grandma Webster who passed away just over nine years ago now. I was pregnant with my younger son when Grandma left us, so I will always be able to recall just how long she has been gone.
When I was a kid, I used to sneak down the hill by Grandma’s house with a pair of scissors and cut a few twigs of blooming rosebuds to surprise her with. Every time, she showed her appreciation for the gesture as if it was the first time. She had a way of making every single one of her grandchildren – so many of us now, I’ve lost count – believe ourselves to be her favorite. To this day, I am still fairly confident that I was Grandma’s favorite. But then again, so is everyone else!
Another treasured spring memory is a composite of all of the times I went mushroom hunting with my grandma in the woods by her house. Morels are plentiful in the woods of my homeland this time of year. When I was a kid, it seemed as though everyone I knew made a mass exodus into the local woodlands to search for this delectable treat. For a few short weeks, we’d have fried mushrooms for breakfast, and then again as a side dish at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, I’ve never been any good at finding them myself.
But I did enjoy going on the hunt, especially with Grandma. We could walk and chat, and I would always come home with an armload of the flowers that I had picked while she filled her bread sack with morels. My favorite spot was a patch of bluebells along the creek just down the hill from Grandma’s house. Last weekend, I found a similar spot at a nature center near my current home, and I was instantly transported back to those days.
It’s been eight months since I left the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. Each passing month has brought surprising new childhood memories prompted by nothing more than the passing of time and the changing of the old familiar crops and other flora and fauna that are so similar to those I grew up with. It’s amazing how our memories can become so attached to the lands of our past. Even when they are bittersweet, these memories can remind us that our lost loved ones are still just a whiff of a redbud tree away.