Viola sororia, common blue violet
Until I was 9 years old, we lived in a little rented house in the valley by the Mankato airport. Mom and Dad tell me how poor we were, how difficult it was to save and scrape to buy the house they live in now. But they protected me well, and I had no concept of poor. There was a little ravine at the bottom of the yard with a creek at the bottom. A railroad track followed the creek, and I loved hearing the train's whistle and its rocking, rocking sound as it went by at night. There were swallows in the garage, goldfinches in the plum trees, salamanders in the grass, wild bleeding hearts along the road. Riches, to a little girl prone to fantasies and daydreams.
And there were just a few violets in the yard. I loved their color, their slender, tender stems and heart-shaped leaves, their little striped faces (they reminded me of cats' whiskers). I loved their smell. Mom even used to order the Avon violet body spray and douse me with it after my bath.
Blue and white flowering
The violet wish didn't come true until much, much later. When I bought the house I live in now, three things sold it for me: the laundry room, the claw foot tub and the huge backyard. And, in that backyard, were violets. Hundreds of them. Over the years, I've protected them from the lawn care guys (because, unlike violets, creeping charlie deserves to die a poisoned death), lovingly relocated the ones in the way of the expansion of my garden, nibbled at their syrupy sweet flowers. Yes, violets are edible. In the language of flower, violets stand for faithfulness (blue) and "let's take a chance on happiness" (white). Knowing this, Mom and I sugared some blossoms from my yard and added them to the little white petit fours we served at my wedding. The chance I took on happiness on my wedding day didn't yield the desired result, but I'll always remember those precious little white cakes with their sparkling violets on top, all prettily lined up on trays.
Yesterday I mowed the lawn for the first time this spring. Before I pulled the starter on my decrepit, smoke-belching mower I walked through the yard as the sun dipped toward evening and picked the last of the season's violets. I put them in a tiny glass vase and set them beside my bed. Their scent wove its way into my dreams all night...I was in my little slanted-ceiling bedroom at that house in the valley...there was a long, long train clacking a lullaby...my old tomcat named Sally came back for a visit. I slept the deep sleep of a child.
Until next year, my lovelies.