Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chicago Crocuses

One advantage to being an earthquake refugee in Chicago is the crocuses. From that point of view, we could not have better timed our stay. Though temperatures have been hovering around freezing for the last few days, the crocuses are undeterred. When Pippi and I explore the neighborhood we find the little purple, yellow and white blossoms poking out of gardens everywhere.

Their colorful faces remind me of the time my mother bought me a crocus of my very own. My mother, who until very recently had a very green thumb, used to have a glass and wood shelf affixed to the wall directly below the arched windows in the room that was at that time my parents' bedroom (now an upstairs sitting room where we often congregate). This shelf was laden with potted plants that my mother tended lovingly every morning. I would often lend a hand.

One day, when I was three years old, my mother decided that I ought to have a plant of my own. So we went to the plant store on 55th Street. It was conveniently located next to Wolf's toy store which had a marvelous penny candy counter in addition to a full array of goods by Mattel, Hasbro and other lesser known toy makers. But on this day we were focused on getting me a crocus. I remember the plant store had that jungly smell and the air was quite moist. The refrigerated cases were well lit yet the shop interior was a little dark and mysterious.

It must have been just about this time of year, when crocuses were beginning to bloom. Though I knew from the start that I wanted purple flowers, I had to inspect all of the potted offerings. Finally, my decision made, we purchased a crocus plant and headed home. How proud I was of my round terra cotta pot with its little green sprigs.

For the next couple months (weeks?) I nurtured my little plant each morning, right alongside my mother, making sure it had enough to drink. I was always tempted to over water but my mother gently encouraged restraint. And in due course, the plant flowered on cue. How I loved those purple blooms!

But one day, as crocuses are wont to do, my beloved bloom shriveled up. Oh the tragedy of it all! Oh the tears! Oh the sadness! I was quite inconsolable. My mother tried to comfort me and assured me that I could get a new plant next year but I never did.

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