Wildflowers

By Patrice Gopo

September 8, 2014

Wildflowers

To the right of my childhood home, where the grass melted into a thick wood, our tree’s steady wooden arms embraced two sisters and their imaginary games. I remember low branches covered with lichen and soft moss, just a foot or two above dark soil. The dip between branch and trunk served as a sort of woodland lap, a seat to welcome even the most unlikely tree climber. From early morning, we slid our hands across peeling birch bark while our feet peeked from beneath a cap of bright, green leaves. By day’s end, sticky, brown sap stained sleeves, palms and pant legs.

One year my parents spent a chunk of their savings replacing a decaying septic system. From their accounts, a chainsaw came to cut down our tree and the wood around too. Then a bulldozer arrived to turn the earth and bury a new tank. Gone was the heady spice of pine needles, birch leaves and a breathing wood. Replaced instead with the dull smell of packed dirt.

Later, after it was all done, my mother bought a bucket of wildflower seeds for us to sprinkle across the bald ground. We never did. Not that spring or any spring after. Now whenever I see fields of wildflowers edging the highway or curling around an old barn, I stare at the purples, reds and oranges stretching wide. I pretend I remember the feel of thin petals brushing against my ankles, the scent of color brought to life.

 

Photo "Dy and Abby" provided by Genessa Charlet, via Flickr creative commons license.

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