Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Picky Fwadoos

Spring more than 40 years ago, and a small hand tugs at my sleeve. “Picky Fwadoos, Mommy,” begs my firstborn and we go out into the spring morning to see what we can see. I remember this as I rake last year’s leaf mulch from the garden beds. Daffodils and narcissus bloom in the front yard and bluebells blossom amid the purple and white violets out back. Picky fwadoos. I pluck some of each for the cobalt vase.

As a child, I named every flower I saw, never guessing that someone else had done so before me. Daffodils and narcissus were kings’ trumpets, tulips were queens’ cups, violets I called shys and lily of the valley were fairy bells. The bright orange flower and the springy seedpod of the jewelweed became orange poppers. I remember picking samplings of all the flowers I could find and taking them home to my mother. Spreading them out before her, I’d name every one. Ever the schoolteacher, she would fetch the big yellow flower book from the shelf and pronounce the Latin names for each of my specimens. I refused to learn them, preferring the names I’d chosen over something like galanthus nivalis, viola odorata, or tussilago fragrans. My toddler had the same independent spirit. When I told him what to call the blooming forsythia he asked, “If Cynthia has a flower, is there a for-Brendan one?” I never see one of those bushes without remembering my son.

Now, when the first flowers are pushing their way out of the cold earth, when the snowdrops and crocus bloom, when the pale green spears of the day lily and the round, raggedy-edged violet leaves promise sweet blossoms, I go out to picky fwadoos in memory of the little boy who reopened my eyes to the wonders of the season. He’s a grown man and living far away but I know somewhere in that tall, lanky form there lurks a small boy who will pick flowers in the spring and think of me, too.


steven said...

pauline what a beautiful rich tribute to the present moment filled as it is with the becoming glory of spring and the distant but also present knowing of your manboy! steven

lakeviewer said...

Great story-your child naming all the flowers- and wonderfully told.

Marion said...

Oh, Pauline! How very wonderful this story is...such rich memories!I am waiting for the time when I can go out to picky fwadoos. I will forever think of you and this post...thank you, it is lovely!

Hilary said...

What a lovey memory. Thanks so much for sharing this tender tale.

Molly said...

Lovely story Pauline. Having sons taught me that there are fewer differences between the sexes than I was led to believe. All that stuff about snips and snails and puppy dog tails is misleading! Boys are just as sensitive and vulnerable as girls. Unfortunate that some men suppress that side of them to conform with the beer swigging, football crazy, enthusiastically farting and belching cliche! Long live the fwadoos pickers!

Sky said...

such a wonderful step back in time to the days of innocence. does he garden now?

Pauline said...

Sky - at 42, he is a master gardener! He has two green thumbs, helped create a school garden at a community college in his town that now feeds not only the kids at the college but at the attached day care, with enough left over to donate to a local food pantry, has spoken on radio shows about gardening and puts up all he grows for his own use.

Molly - he is and always has been a deep thinker and a nature aficionado. He's busier than anyone else I know!

Hilary - I have at least one favorite story for each of my children. This is my favorite for this boy!

Marion - it's been years and years since he and I picked flowers together and yet I remember every detail of that day :)

Thanks, lakeviewer

Steven - it's a treasured memory of that manboy!

Ruth said...

Well you know I'm going to call the forsythia "forsynthia" now.

Oh, now you make me think about grandchildren . . . (longing).

Reya Mellicker said...

Ah! Fabulous!!

All your names are perfect and should be adopted universally.

Even at my advanced age I name plants and flowers according to whim. I know there are official names for them, but I have my own endearing names for them, kind of like nicknames.

Barbara said...

I'll bet he thinks of you every day whether there are spring flowers or not!

Don't you wonder how some of the "official" flower names came about?

järnebrand said...

Aw...this post is so sweet...! So full of Spring and hope and love... Ah... :)

Congratulations on the POTW!:)

It sounds wonderful to make up your own names for flowers... I love the names you made up when you were a kid. In Sweden there is a saying "Kärt barn har många namn", which means that a child that is loved is called by many names. Since we all love flowers, we should all call them what we want. :)
What a heart-warming post... Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Tammie Lee said...

ah, such a lovely memory of spring flowers. Congratulations on the POTW from Hilary's!

Zuzana said...

Beautiful! One of the most beautiful posts I have ever read, brought tears to my eyes, due to so many reasons. To a nature lover and an undying romantic like me, this was a treat.
Hilary sure knows how to pick a winner.
Congratulations on POTW,

slommler said...

Such a beautiful memory!! I love how you have written it.
Congrats on your POTW!! Well deserved.

Anonymous said...

That was a truly lovely memory and beautifully told.

Thank to Hilary for finding you and cngratulations for making her Post of the Week.

Brian Miller said...

such a beautiful post and congrats on the POTW!

June said...

Each spring being brand new, and each flower being one of a kind (although they resemble last year's issue), it seems perfectly appropriate to me to give them new names, according to our views of them.
I love that you did that as a child, and while I applaud your mother's efforts to acquaint you with Knowledge Of The World, I'm glad you resisted.
Would that we all could hold onto that innocent, ignorant joy!

TechnoBabe said...

This is kind of like we look at the same moon, huh. My grown kids live so far from me but we look at the same moon. But what you look at is so much better especially that you know your son is looking at his flowers and picking them and thinking of you too. This is a wonderful mother/son story. Not many stories of mother and son. My son is the middle child and he used to say when he was a few years old that he would ride the back of a butterfly.

Land of shimp said...

Now that was just lovely. What a pretty, gentle memory to have at your disposal, and I thank you for sharing it.

Somewhere in all of us is the little kid who was just amazed by the world around us, who saw special things as being special, never commonplace.

That you remember your son's reaction so fondly is a way of keeping that spirit alive forever.

Daryl said...

Congrats on the POTW from Hilary

Land of shimp said...

Ha! I've returned because whereas I noticed the name Pauline, and thought, "She's writes quite well." I didn't realize you are the Pauline with whom I am already familiar.

Not exactly a master sleuth today, am I? Sift the clues, sift the clues.

Frank Baron said...

Very nice, indeed. :)

Steve Gravano said...

Beautiful story, I too always wondered about Forsythia, I had a cousin named Cynthia, it just didn't seem fair.

Hayden said...

Lovely. Beautifully remembered and written. And what a triumph that his days of picky fwadoos matured to the work he's doing now! You must be very proud!

Pauline said...

ruth - forcynthia should be its real name now if use is any indicator ;)

reya - I've always opted for endearing over official

barbara - not a day goes by, I hope! I know I think of each of my kids daily.

jarne - thank you for sharing the meaning of "Kärt barn har många namn" - I like knowing that!

thanks tammie!

and thank you, zuzana! it's always encouraging to know one's words have hit the mark

thanks for the compliment slommler

moannie - being recognized by Hilary is such a pleasure. Her own site is so wonderful!

Thanks, Brian!

June, I still try to hold onto that "innocent, ignorant joy!"

I hadn't thought of it that way technobabe but yes, you're right, it is!

LOS - thanks for stopping by (twice) ;)

Thank you Daryl

and you, too Frank

steve - will you call them forcynthias now? (you have your won plant, you know - Stevia Rebaudiana)

Hayden, I am indeed very proud of that boy for the good he is doing in the world :)