19 September 2006

sometimes a weed looks like a flower

If I am blank on things to write about, or else having an “off” morning, all I have to do lately is step outside my back door and suddenly inspiration sweeps over me. That is particularly true on days like today. I woke up in a grumpy haze that followed Jeremy slamming the bathroom door. Not because he was angry, but because the door is one of those cruel details of an old, old house and makes a harsh slamming sound when closed. You have to be deliberate and methodical if you want the door to close softly, and since it is attached to the bathroom on one side (sleeping wife on the other), it is rare that we have the patience to spend thirty seconds to make the quiet close happen.

So I woke up with a jolt, and then grumbled my way to the kitchen cabinet for a mug.

Awhile later I ventured outside in hopes of stripping away my funk, and found the lawn damp with morning dew. It reminded me of walking to middle school from my childhood house on Farnaby Court. Most days I walked with my friend Shannon who lived two doors down. The entire first floor of her house—minus the kitchen—was covered in bright wall-to-wall carpeting the color of new limes. I actually don’t mind that color so much now (see Bebe’s overalls), but at the time it was sort of shocking to find that actual shade of carpeting in a place where people lived.

My own house had lots of cobalt blue and white, nice drapes, and my mother’s eclectic touches. I loved the huge antique painted trunk to rest my feet on, and the speckled ceramic cats that sat on the kitchen windowsill. It was a cheerful house with large windows, and never seemed to have a smell, the way other people’s houses did.

Of course, I now realize that it probably did have a smell of some sort, but that smell smelled like us, so there was no way to ever step outside of it long enough to notice. In the same way, Shannon’s house, which smelled often of bologna sandwiches, was most likely a scent that her own family found familiar and pleasant.

Different as our houses were, we walked to school together every day, through the long stretch of dewy lawn that led to the front of our school. By seventh grade, we had begun incorporating nude-colored panty house into our outfits as a means of “dressing up.” Usually we wore skirts with our panty hose, but we also had knee-high versions to wear with pants and a snazzy pair of flats. Often I looked down to see freshly mowed grass stuck to my shoes, and dots of water soaking into my nylon covered legs. The worst were the mosquitoes that hid in the grass, darting at our legs as we scurried among them. Trying to scratch an itch through a synthetic layer of skin is not as easy as one might think.

This morning in the yard, I walked barefoot on the fresh dew, having seen something across the lawn that drew me to inspect it. Out against a plank of wooden fence grew this huge red flower that looked a bit alien from far away. Surrounded only by a short bed of wild clover, the flower stood alone, begging to be noticed. Even though just a flower, there was a lot about it to study. Some of its tomato-red petals were curled like party ribbons, while others hung flat like a daisy. From underneath its center grew long wispy shoots that resembled great eyelashes. As I looked down the center of the bloom, it almost seemed like several small flowers clumped together to make a larger one. It was the prettiest accidental flower I have ever seen.

That’s when I found myself remembering the dewy lawn of seventh grade, and panty hose, and bologna sandwiches, and ugly green carpet. It’s amazing what a step outside your door can bring back into memory... I went to get my camera.


Ali O said...

we have exactly 1 of those on our front lawn. andy purposefully mowed around it so that we could marvel at it for a good, long while. your pics make me appreciate it even more!

Christine said...

Let's hope Shannon doesn't read this post - hee hee! That flower is spectacular!

intelshoe said...

i just found of those in my back yard. i can't figure out its name :/