Monday, August 1, 2011
I love flowers. I love having a vase full on the table. It feels luxurious and quaint at the same time to me. When the flowers come from our yard it feels creative and loving to me. This week I’ve brought a full bouquet (twice!) of blue hydrangeas into our all-purpose bedroom.
When we moved to this new house in 1999 there was only basic grass and front yard landscape. The backyard was our canvas, mostly my canvas, for painting. Dave suggested a hydrangea bush. Hydrangeas remind him of his grandmother, he said. So in went a small little bush at the northeast corner of the house. They’d be a great color match for the family room; such an old-fashioned kind of flower.
This hydrangea has delivered many beautiful bouquets over the years. It now grows over six feet tall regularly and threatens the grassy pathway of the side yard for mowing each summer. The branches spill over the bed’s neatly squared border. Lucky dog has beaten a path around this corner on his way to the fence gate to see who dares to stroll through his neighborhood. A hole lies under the plant, the dirt having been shoveled into the yard, disturbing the flat lay of the grass strip. The space is the perfect size for a medium sized dog to curl up and rest from the hot sun. I have often refilled the hole over the years, leveling out both dirt and grass, only to find that the hole and mound of dirt magically return again in a few days. I finally realized a dog needs his safe, cool spot in the world.
When the flowers appeared in the room Dave recalled his grandmother’s hydrangea. He used to sit underneath it he said, with Grow-pup. A boy and his dog. Grow-pup was his first dog, and stayed at his paternal grandmother’s house at the time. He was maybe eight, nine or ten years old. His parents were not getting along. He and his mother lived in a rental and could not keep a dog with them.
Dave and Grow-pup under the hydrangea. I can envision the child seeking solace from the unconditional love of a dog. He said he sat there “when he was mad or frustrated.” “Like when a kid wants to go eat some worms,” I said. “Yes.” Sometimes it was just a refuge. I know the heat of the southwest sun in summer, and the cool of dirt and the shade of plants. Tulsa can be blazingly hot. I image how this place felt safe, like for Lucky dog half sleeping under his hydrangea keeping watch with one eye open to the front gate.
This was a place for young Davey to hide out from the grownup world with grownup problems, under the hydrangea with his dog. An only child. He had man’s best friend with him, his audience to the pains of growing up – Grow-pup.
The flowers come in a vase now. His grandmother’s yard is only a memory. A memory restored by the mostly blue, but also subtle green and yellow tinged flowers of a hydrangea. It is reminder for a man of how far he has traveled, how different his life than that of the child and his parents. This is a thread through time to vulnerability and curiosity. A reminder how much a child and the man needs his safe, cool spot in the world.