Everyone handles the things of memories differently. Some people collect matchbooks from special places. Some people take a snippet of hair from a beloved pet or relative. Some rely solely on photographs for memory. Some people take a pebble from places that have touched their hearts. Or they buy a figurine. And while it seems many of us wrestle with de-cluttering, there are always some things with which we cannot — will not — part. The very special souvenirs, tokens, momentos. That’s all well and good when they have a home on a curio shelf, or in a hope chest, or on the coffee table in proud display. But if you’re like me (and my mother before me) you run into problems when your special things are also a living things. I’m talking here specifically about plants.
That’s right: plants. For some reason, sentimentality towards flora runs deep with us. We have a French lilac that reminds us of my grandmother. We seek out Bloodroot and Trillium and Jack in the Pulpit to remind us of Lillian. We force Amaryllis and paper whites in honor of Nancy. We have special cuttings from our prior homes, plants that have travelled with us: Iris, day lilies, hosta, roses. Not everything transfers well of course, but we try really, really hard to keep them all alive. When we can’t save them we do mourn their loss.
My friend Jami in Virginia gave me some pussy willow cuttings before we left last spring. I hand carried the twigs all the way home and planted them in the ground, but I wasn’t overly optimistic. This was a rough winter up here. Absolutely brutal. So imagine my delight when my mother brought in this sweet, little sprig. As fierce and strong and resilient as my friend Jami, the little pussy willow persevered and is now sharing its little fuzzy buds.
So, with that hopeful little sign, I took the pussy willows that I bought months and months ago (and forced to root) out and planted them next to the strong little Virginia pussy willows. With any luck, we will have a wall of pussy willows in a couple years to memorialize the hard winter and to remind me of Jami and of Virginia. They are next to the grapevine that reminds my mom of her childhood with Mrs Huburt.